Press Release

Welch Joins Bipartisan Effort to Enhance Reentry Programs, Promote Public Safety

Jun 10, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) joined Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas) in introducing the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2024, legislation which would reauthorize critical reentry grant programs from the Second Chance Act of 2008, most recently reauthorized as part of the First Step Act in 2018. The legislation would reauthorize critical programs to reduce recidivism, invest in communities, and promote public safety, including services and supports for housing, career training, and treatment for substance use disorders and/or mental illness. 

 “Community reentry grant programs from the Second Chance Act have been vital to reducing recidivism and fostering lasting change for individuals reentering society. These grant programs lend a helping hand to folks looking to rebuild their lives after incarceration by offering support and services for housing, employment, health care, and more,” said Senator Welch. “Our bipartisan legislation builds on this progress by reauthorizing the Second Chance Act to invest in programs that promote community safety and help reduce recidivism.” 

“Over 95% of incarcerated people will be released at some point,” said Senator Capito. “The Second Chance Reauthorization Act will allow people reentering society to become successful and productive members of their communities. I am proud to introduce this legislation that will continue to provide resources to evidence-based programs that reduce recidivism rates and promote public safety.” 

“Ensuring that individuals reentering society after incarceration have the tools and support they need to successfully reintegrate is a crucial step in building safer communities,” said Senator Booker. “By offering hope, support, and opportunity to those seeking to rebuild their lives, we aim to break cycles of recidivism and create a pathway for individuals to positively contribute to their communities. Since 2008, we have seen firsthand the redemption and transformation that has taken place as a result of the Second Chance Act, and reauthorizing this legislation is essential to continue the progress we’ve witnessed thus far.” 

“The Second Chance Act is a proven, time-tested law that extends lifelines of opportunity and support to formerly incarcerated people. This legislation would build on those successes again, as it did when we last reauthorized it as part of my landmark First Step Act. We must continue investing in and advancing policies that curb recidivism and create opportunities, so our criminal justice system can live up to its ultimate mission: to rehabilitate and prepare people for successful reentry into society. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reauthorize this important law,” said Senator Durbin, Senate Majority Whip and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee

“Second Chance programs offer formerly incarcerated individuals the resources to build better lives and contribute to their communities,” said Senator Cornyn. “By reauthorizing investments in these reentry initiatives, we can reduce recidivism and improve lives.” 

The Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2024 would:  

  • Reauthorize key grant programs that provide vital services, supports, and resources for people reentering their communities after incarceration; 
  • Expand allowable uses for supportive and transitional housing services for individuals reentering the community from prison and jail; and 
  • Enhance addiction treatment services for individuals with substance use disorders, including peer recovery services, case management, and overdose prevention. 

Since its passage 15 years ago, Second Chance has supported states, local governments, tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations in their efforts to reduce recidivism. To date, Second Chance grants have reached more than 442,000 justice-involved individuals who participated in reentry services or parole and probation programs.  

From 2009 to 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded over 1,100 Second Chance Act grants totaling more than $600 million to states, local, and tribal governments, as well as reentry-focused nonprofit organizations. Second Chance grants have been administered to 845 agencies across the U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia. 

In addition to Senators Capito, Booker, Durbin, Cornyn, and Welch, this bill is also cosponsored by Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).  

U.S. Representatives Carol Miller (R-WV-01), Danny Davis (D-IL-07), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND-AL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04), Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), and Jerry Nadler (D-NY-12) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Senator Welch has advocated for initiatives in the Senate to reduce recidivism and support those re-entering their communities after being incarcerated. Senator Welch and the Vermont congressional delegation have repeatedly called on the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to establish a Residential Reentry Center (RRC), a facility that offers transitional community reentry services and assistance for formerly incarcerated individuals, in Vermont. Welch highlighted the importance of placing a RRC in Vermont at recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings and has pressed BOP Director Colette Peters on why Vermont remains one of only two states without an RRC. 

In December, Senator Welch and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.-07) introduced the Inclusive Democracy Act, legislation that would end felony disenfranchisement in federal elections, including for the nearly two million individuals currently incarcerated in the United States. Vermont is one of only two states in the nation, besides Maine, that grants persons in prison the right to vote. Welch is also a cosponsor of the Next Step Home Act to restore voting rights in federal elections for these folks who have shown a genuine desire to reenter their communities. 

The Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2024 is endorsed by over 150 organizations. Read the full list of endorsers here

Read the full text of the bill.