First Step Act marks further reform in criminal justice system

The First Step Act, which passed the U.S. Senate 87-12 and the House 358-36, will usher in significant changes to federal sentencing laws as well as improvements to programs that aim to reduce recidivism and provide support to people who are involved in the criminal justice system. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 21.

The First Step Act also reauthorizes the Second Chance Act, building on and strengthening the landmark legislation originally passed 10 years ago. The Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2018 provides $100 million per year to establish and enhance state and local programs that promote successful reentry for people returning to the community after incarceration. GEO Reentry Services operates almost 100 residential and non-residential reentry centers nationwide that offer evidence-based treatment and training. Having delivered reentry services for more than three decades, GEO Reentry Services is poised to assist correctional agencies by providing a continuum of care for managing more individuals in the criminal justice system, including inmates deemed dangerous to public safety and housed in prisons or jail through those receiving treatment, training and supervision in the community.

Here are five things to know about the reauthorization of the Second Chance Act:

  1. Second Chance Act reauthorization strengthens support for comprehensive reentry programming to address the myriad needs of people who have been in the criminal justice system.
  2. Second Chance Act reauthorization expands efforts to reduce substance addiction among people involved in the justice system.
  3. Second Chance Act reauthorization puts lessons learned about prison education into practices.
  4. Second Chance Act reauthorization expands eligibility for certain grant programs to provide critical reentry services.
  5. Second Chance Act reauthorization puts new accountability measures in place, making sure tax dollars are spent responsibly.

For more information about the Second Chance Act, please read a more in-depth review of its implications at the Council of State Governments here.