The Second Chance Act of 2007

By · Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

The Second Chance Act of 2007 continues to bring hope to the lives of prisoners confined in Taft Camp. As of this writing, the possibility of this legislation passing remains alive. I’m hopeful that both Houses of Congress will approve the Bill and present it for signature to the President before the year ends.

Although the Second Chance Act of 2007 primarily helps those who are released from prison, at least two provisions of the version of the Bill that I have read will advance the release dates of some prisoners still inside. The one element of the Bill that most prisoners know about is the section that increases halfway house eligibility from 10 percent to 20 percent (up to five years). That extra six months of halfway house eligibility would be meaningful to me, as I am eagerly awaiting my return to society.

What I value even more, however, is the incentive published in section 231(b) (2) of the Senate 1060 IS Bill. That section states, “A reduction in the term of imprisonment of that prisoner, except that such reduction may not be more than 1 year from the term the prisoner must otherwise serve.” The provision I cite above, according to the Senate version of the Bill, would be available as an “Incentive for Participation in Skills Development Programs.” In a newsletter I received from the Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin called “The Doing Time Times,” (2007, Issue 9), Keith Heidmann wrote that the House Bill has 92 co-sponsors and that President Bush has indicated that he would sign the Bill if Congress presents it.

The media attention convinces me that this Bill may soon become law. If it does, thousands of prisoners will reap immediate benefits. Specifically, the passage of the Bill would mean that many prisoners may see their release dates advance by two years. Those who have completed vocational or academic programs would receive the one-year reduction through the incentive program, and they would proceed to halfway house one year before their advanced release date.

The excitement of this Bill reminds me of the legislation that made the RDAP program possible back in the mid 1990’s. People who had participated in the 500-hour drug class received the one-year time cut immediately after the Congress passed that Bill in 1996.

I am hopeful that Congress will pass the Second Chance Act of 2007 and that President Bush will sign the Bill into law. That new legislation would encourage all prisoners to participate in programs designed to help them emerge from prison successfully, bringing needed hope to families, prisoners, and improving our nation’s prison system.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.