Don’t shoot a hole in crime prevention

The U.S. Senate is moving quickly to cut all funding for the Second Chance Act, legislation designed to help the formerly incarcerated successfully re-enter society. This makes no sense.

Half of the people released from prison return within three years, according to the U.S. Justice Department. As research shows, second chance programs stop the revolving prison door.

Formerly incarcerated people face tremendous challenges finding housing and jobs, and accessing healthcare. This is exacerbated when they return to economically disadvantaged communities.

Reentry programs focus on putting them to work as quickly as possible as they receive supportive social services. This concrete effort to transition them into productive lives prevents their re-arrest, re-conviction and re-incarceration.

Proactive services also help patch families. Nationwide, 1.5 million children have a parent in prison. Re-integration programs guide fathers and mothers-many of them Latinos and African Americans- toward the stability they need to support sons and daughters.

As a nation with one of the largest prison populations and a criminal justice system that is racially tinged, crime prevention and public safety cannot be addressed from the enforcement arm alone. Yet, a Senate subcommittee voted to eliminate the budget for Second Chance in 2012.

Elected, community and religious leaders should throw the book at the Senate until it comes to its senses. The job of the correctional system is not done until formerly incarcerated people are successfully reincorporated into their communities. Anything less is a big whole in anti-crime talk.