The U.S. Congress should take an important step to address issues faced by the more than 650,000 men, women and juveniles who re-enter society each year from prisons, jails and detention centers. This was the message of the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and the president of Catholic Charities USA in a March 4 letter supporting the Second Chance Act.
“Those who return to our communities from incarceration face significant challenges. These include finding housing and stable employment, high rates of substance abuse, physical and mental health challenges and social isolation,” wrote Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Father Larry Snyder in a March 4 letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
Archbishop Wenski and Father Snyder wrote that, without necessary support services, these individuals have an increased chance of re-offending.
“The Second Chance Act supports much needed programs in government agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victim support and other services to individuals returning to the community from prison or jail,” they wrote.
Archbishop Wenski and Father Snyder noted the bill supports “common sense solutions” proven to reduce recidivism rates. These include grants for mentoring programs and family-based treatment centers, development of resources and best practices around reentry and a taskforce to promote cooperation between agencies.
The full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/criminal-justice-restorative-justice/upload/letter-to-senate-and-house-judiciary-from-usccb-ccusa-on-second-chance-act-2014-03-04.pdf