Pelavin:“This bill offers ex-offenders a fair chance at reducing the likelihood of returning to crime, welcoming them back into society with the belief that they can and will better their lives.”
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In response to President George W. Bush’s signing into law of the Second Chance Act, (H.R. 1592), Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
“This crucial legislation promises to reduce recidivism among the 650,000 prisoners who reenter society each year only to face unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse addictions and mental health issues. Burdened and incapacitated by a lack of employment, shortage of housing and an absence of training and support, 67 percent of those released from prison are rearrested within three years.
The Second Chance Act will help to create a more effective criminal justice system by supplying state and local governments and non-profit organizations with resources to provide ex-offenders with much-needed services, such as mentoring, job training, housing assistance, substance abuse treatment and mental health services. This bill offers ex-offenders a fair chance at reducing the likelihood of returning to crime, welcoming them back into society with the belief that they can and will better their lives.
Jewish tradition teaches that the criminal is capable of reshaping his or her life. In Ezekial 33:11, we read, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live,” teaching us that we have an obligation to aid ex-offenders in becoming productive members of society.
It is our sacred duty to promote justice and to celebrate its advancement; yesterday’s enactment of the Second Chance Act signifies progress on the road toward equality, fairness and justice for all. We thank Rep. Danny Davis and Sen. Joe Biden for their leadership on this legislation, and we commend President Bush for his support.”