01 February 2023- Today, Representatives David Trone (D-MD), John Rutherford (R-FL), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) announced the creation of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force in an effort to promote policies that will improve reentry outcomes and reduce employment barriers for returning citizens. At the time of its launch, the Task Force comprised of 26 Members of Congress (13 Democrats and 13 Republicans).
During its inaugural event, members and co-chairs were joined by Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director, Colette Peters, and Acting Head of National Institute of Corrections, Alix McLearen, for an introductory briefing on the challenges that the BOP faces in establishing and maintaining successful reentry programming.
Over 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons every year in the United States, and recent studies show that formerly incarcerated people are currently unemployed at an average rate of over 27 percent. The new task force aims to address these barriers to successful reentry by developing and promoting reform policies in Congress and hosting monthly roundtable discussions.
“Returning citizens continue to face hurdles that prevent them from rebuilding their lives and becoming productive members of society. After paying their debts to society, they are effectively shut out of housing, employment, financial support – you name it. This isn’t fair, and this isn’t right,” said Congressman Trone. “As a businessman, I know firsthand that there is a lot of value in hiring returning citizens and giving folks a second chance. I’m proud to co-found and co-chair the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force so that we work together – Republicans and Democrats – to address the problems in our criminal justice system head-on, and provide returning citizens with the resources they desperately need.”
“As a lifetime member of law enforcement, I saw firsthand how difficult it can be for those leaving our jails and prisons to re-enter society. From getting an ID to finding a job, stable housing, and healthcare, these individuals face many barriers to success after incarceration. When I was sheriff, I created a robust reentry program in Northeast Florida, and I look forward to continuing that work in Congress. Helping the formerly incarcerated become productive members of society makes our communities safer and reduces the number of repeat offenders. That’s not being soft on crime, that’s being smart on crime,” said Congressman John Rutherford. “I look forward to working with Representatives Trone, Armstrong, and Blunt Rochester, and all of my colleagues on the Second Chance Task Force, to support those reentering society and reduce recidivism.”
“Providing tools and treatment to help incarcerated individuals re-enter society is critical and reduces their chances of re-offending, making our communities safer,” said Congressman Armstrong. “The most critical time for someone leaving incarceration is the first 30 days after release, yet they face many obstacles. We have to be smarter about how we can help provide the stability they need. That’s why I’m honored to team up and co-lead this critical, bipartisan task force.”
“As our economy continues to grow in the wake of the pandemic, we know that we currently have more job openings than those looking for work. That reality presents us with an opportunity to break down barriers to those who have been traditionally excluded from the workforce, such as justice-involved individuals,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “I’m thrilled to be joining colleagues from across the aisle and political spectrum to create second chances for those who have paid their debt to society and are looking to better their lives. The Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force will help champion initiatives such as my Clean Slate Act. Together, we can create opportunities for these folks along with growth in our economy and prosperity for our nation.”
Other Members of Congress in the Task Force include Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Danny Davis (D-IL), G.T. Thompson (R-PA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Barry Moore (R-AL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Glenn Ivey (D-MD), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), David Rouzer (R-NC), Brittany Pettersen (D-CO), Randy Weber (R-TX), Wiley Nickel (D-NC), Dan Meuser (R-PA), Susan Wild (D-PA), John James (R-MI).