What Does The Second Chance Act Do?

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

The Second Chance Act allows for the distribution of federal funding to states and the federal government for reentry programs.

Additionally, a provision is included that instructs but does not mandate the Bureau of Prisons to consider extending the stay of federal prisoners in halfway houses, and that authorizes funds to be spent on a very limited pilot project for older prisoners.

People already in prison cannot benefit from the second chance bill since it only applies to people who are leaving prison.

The purpose of this article is to explain all there is to know about the second chance act, including what qualifies as a second chance.

Are People Helped by the Second Chance Act Only After they Leave Prison?

The majority of the time, yes they are, but this can come with some variations. A bill introduced by the senators has aimed to provide programs that assist prisoners returning to society in reentering the community so they do not re-offend.

There may only be three parts of the bill that can have a significant impact on the length of time someone is sentenced to. However, the three parts only affect people who are in federal prisons.

These are the three parts below:

1) The first amendment increases the outer limits of how long an individual may be considered for prerelease community correction services from six to twelve months. Although this law gives the Bureau of Prisons the ability to give every person serving a sentence of less than 12 months in a halfway house the full 12 months, there is no new requirement though so you have to be lucky for this to be granted. 

2) This second provision is called the Elderly and Family Reunification for Certain Nonviolent Offenders provision, which offers some limited pilot programs. It is unlikely that this provision will benefit many people because it will likely only be applied in one facility so it is extremely limited.

3) The bill increases the percentage of federal sentences that can be served in home confinement slightly. Under the bill, Bureau of Prisons officers are not required to confine prisoners in their homes. So it really leaves it open to discussion on what the Bureau of Prisons decides to do with that prisoner. 

Under the Second Chance Act, What Federal Funding is Authorized?

As a result of the Second Chance Act, financial incentives are authorized for state and federal programs that aid reentry.

Money can only be spent on these programs after authorization by Congress is given.

The appropriations committee is responsible for appropriating or distributing funds to a program as soon as they are authorized.

Occasionally, there is a full distribution of funds authorized. There are times, however, when the available funds fall short of the authorized amounts. 

When the Second Chance Act is Authorized?

  • Reentry programs for adult and juvenile offenders are authorized for demonstration and long-term reentry programs. This does not apply to federal prisons. It includes existing reentry demonstration projects for adult and juvenile offenders in state and local jurisdictions. This can be in education, libraries and placement services. It is a great way to offer a second chance.
  • The Second Act is all about awarding grants to states, tribes, and local reentry courts for demonstration projects aimed at monitoring juveniles and adult offenders returning to the community and providing them with coordinated and comprehensive reentry services and programs. Among these are coordinated and comprehensive re-entry services and programs, including drug and alcohol testing, health assessments, and victim impact panels.  In addition, providing community services to juvenile and adult offenders, such as housing assistance, education, and job training. 
  • A demonstration drug treatment program that is an alternative to imprisonment, developed, implemented or expanded at the state, tribal or local levels. 
  • Developing, implementing, or expanding comprehensive and clinically appropriate family-based substance abuse treatment programs as alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug-offending parents or prison-based family treatment programs for incarcerated parents of minor children.
  • Improvements in education at state, tribal, and local prisons, jails and juvenile facilities. This can also be considered for technology career training demonstration programs. 

Does the Bill Allow Elderly Prisoners to be Released Early?

In addition to the bill, the Elderly and Family Reunification Program for Certain Nonviolent Offenders includes a pilot program for federal prisoners.

A single facility may be selected as part of this demonstration program by the Bureau of Prisons. It is highly unlikely that you will see more than this. 

A person will be selected for that facility if they meet the following requirements:

  • A minimum age of 65 is required.
  • When convicted of an offense or offences that do not involve violence, serving a term of imprisonment that is not life imprisonment.
  • Serving the full term of imprisonment to which the offender was sentenced, or serving at least 10 years of that term. 
  • Does not have a past criminal record related to violence, sex offenses, or similar offenses. 
  • The Bureau of Prisons has not determined, and at its sole discretion, whether or not this prisoner has a history of violence, or of committing sexual offenses or other crimes, such as attempting to elude arrest.
  • It has been determined by the Bureau of Prisons that the release of low-risk inmates to home detention under this section will result in a substantial net cost reduction to the federal government, and that the inmates will pose no substantial risk of engaging in criminal activity or endangering anyone or the public if released to home detention.

Is Federal Parole and Good Conduct Time Reinstated or Increased in the Bill?

It’s important to declare that the bill does not reinstate federal parole nor does it improve the rate at which good conduct time is awarded.

It is also no secret that the bill does not clarify or correct the current method by which the Bureau of Prisons computes good conduct time.

So the system is still widely judged by all and can change at any moment.

Do you Know if the Second Chance Act is a Law?

As I mentioned earlier, the law has been passed both by the Senate and the House, and it was signed into law by the President in 2008.

It has become a way to enhance public safety in an attempt to prevent future crime in society. It has become a fair way to treat criminals and offer a second chance to those who deserve it.

Despite the fact that it is not available to all prisoners, it still represents a positive step towards balancing the community.

The effort put into getting this law established created a monumental moment in American history.