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Second Chance Act (Fact Sheet)

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2018
2 pages
Publication Series

After a review of the provisions of the federal Second Chance Act (SCA), this fact sheet describes SCA's grant program, the grant funding amounts for each of the years FY 2009-2018, and examples of four programs funded by SCA grants.


In setting the background for the rationale underlying the SCA, the fact sheet notes that about 2.2 million people incarcerated in the United States will be released back into communities at some point. They will have complex challenges that largely determine whether they will reoffend or will be responsible citizens. The prevalent needs and challenges are in the areas of mental health, substance use, housing and homelessness, education and employment, and providing for their children and families. In April 2008, Congress passed the SCA, which is the first-of-its-kind legislation that received bipartisan support. It authorizes a federal investment in strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety while reducing corrections costs for state and local governments. The SCA authorized up to $165 million in federal grants to state, local, and tribal government agencies and nonprofit organizations for the funding of initiatives and programs that assist those released from prisons and jails in addressing the needs and conditions that pose risks of reoffending. In the four examples of how SCA grantees are using their funds, Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) has established reentry programs that link people with service coordination, education, job readiness, treatment, family supports, and other services; the Texas Juvenile Justice Department has funded a program that provides family-focused reentry services to gang-affiliated youth; Connecticut offers transitional housing, case management, and peer mentoring; and Iowa has established pre-release planning for those nearing release from prison.

Date Published: April 1, 2018