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State Inmate Prison Returns Drop 23% Under U.S. Second Chance Act

The number of state inmates who returned to prison after their release dropped by 23 percent in the 15 years after passage of the federal Second Chance Act (SCA), says the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center

The center says its report, "50 States, 1 Goal: Examining State-Level Recidivism Trends in the Second Chance Act Era” shows significant progress in reducing recidivism across the nation.

The study, funded by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, says its results translate to fewer people "returning to custody and more opportunities for them to reintegrate into their families and communities. States have achieved these lower rates through policy changes and increased support for employment, behavioral health care, and stable housing."

A bill to extend the Second Chance Act by five years was introduced Tuesday by a bipartisan House group led by Rep. Carol Miller (R-WVA) and Danny Davis (D-IL).

Miller said the measure includes "strengthened provisions" on transitional housing services and substance abuse treatment.

States are still projected to spend $8 billion on reincarceration costs for individuals released from prison in 2022. The new report suggests improving reentry models, "creating meaningful opportunities for returning individuals to contribute to the workforce and their communities."


“The findings of this report underscore the critical importance of ongoing efforts to reduce recidivism and support successful reentry,” said Megan Quattlebaum, director of the CSG Justice Center.


CSG says the federal government has invested $1.2 billion since SCA's passage in 2008 to support state and local efforts in improving reentry outcomes.


States including Missouri, Alabama, North Carolina, and Nebraska have set ambitious goals to reduce recidivism further by 2030 with SCA support. These goals include increasing access to treatment and mental health services, enhancing employment opportunities, and ensuring access to stable housing.


President Biden has declared April "Second Chance Month."

The White House said that more than 650,000 people are released from state and federal prisons annually

"some leaving with nothing more than a few dollars and a bus ticket to start their new lives."

More than 70 million Americans have a criminal history record, which can make it hard to secure a steady job, safe housing, affordable health care, or a good education, the White House said.


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