Second Chance Act

Signed into law on April 9, 2008, the Second Chance Act (P.L. 110-199) was designed to improve outcomes for people returning to communities after incarceration. This first-of-its-kind legislation authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide support strategies and services designed to reduce recidivism by improving outcomes for people returning from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities.

The Second Chance Act’s grant programs are funded and administered by the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice. Within the Office of Justice Programs, the Bureau of Justice Assistance awards Second Chance Act grants serving adults, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention awards grants serving youth returning from the juvenile correction facilities.

Click on the links below for more information about specific Second Chance Act grant programs:

  • Demonstration grants provide funding to state and local government agencies and federally recognized Indian tribes to plan and implement comprehensive strategies that address the challenges faced by adults and youth returning to their communities after incarceration. Click here to learn more about the demonstration grant program.

  • Mentoring grants support nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Indian tribes that provide mentoring, case management, and other transitional services. Click here to learn more about the mentoring grant program.

  • Co-occurring treatment grants provide funding to state and local government agencies and federally recognized Indian tribes to implement or expand integrated treatment programs for individuals with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. Click here to learn more about the co-occurring treatment grant program.

  • Family-based substance abuse treatment grants support state and local government agencies and federally recognized Indian tribes in establishing or enhancing family-based residential substance abuse treatment programs in correctional facilities that include recovery and family supportive services. Click here to learn more about the family-based substance abuse treatment grant program.

  • Reentry court grants help state and local government agencies and federally recognized Indian tribes establish state, local, and tribal reentry courts that monitor offenders and provide them with the treatment services necessary to establish a self-sustaining and law-abiding life. Click here to learn more about the reentry court grant program.

  • Technology career training grants help state and local government agencies and federally recognized Indian tribes to establish programs to train individuals in prisons, jails, or juvenile residential facilities for technology-based jobs and careers during the three-year period before their release. Click here to learn more about the technology career training grant program.

  • Recidivism reduction grants provide funding to state departments of correction to achieve reductions in recidivism rates through planning, capacity-building, and implementation of effective and evidence-based interventions. Click here to learn more about the recidivism reduction grant program.

  • Smart Probation grants provide funding to state and local government agencies and federally recognized Indian tribes to implement evidence-based supervision strategies to improve outcomes for probationers. Click here to learn more about the smart probation grant program.

Pay for Success

Beginning in 2012, Second Chance Act grant programs began providing priority consideration to agencies that propose a Pay for Success model. For more information about the Pay for Success concept, please visit the Pay for Success Learning Hub developed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund.

For More Information

If you would like to receive an email alert when new Second Chance Act funding opportunities become available, please sign up for the National Reentry Resource Center newsletter.
If you are interested in identifying the Second Chance Act grant recipients in your state, please visit the National Criminal Justice Initiatives Map.

Second Chance Act Success Stories

  • Click here to read about Wade, who participated in a mentoring program run by the Amity Foundation in Los Angeles, CA, funded by the Second Chance Act in 2009.
  • Click here to read about Frankie, who participated in a mentoring program run by PB&J Family Services in Albuquerque, NM, funded by the Second Chance Act in 2009. Click here to learn more about the PB&J mentoring program funded by the Second Chance Act.
  • Click here to read about Kim, who participated in a mentoring program run by Family Pathfinders of Tarrant County (TX) funded by the Second Chance Act in 2010.
  • Click here to read about Janelle, who participated in a co-occurring disorder treatment program run by the Ohio Department of Youth Services funded by the Second Chance Act in 2010.
  • Click here to read about Eddie, who participated in a mentoring program run by Amicus, a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, MN, which received a Second Chance Act grant in 2010.
  • Click here to read about Roca, Inc, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that provides mentoring services for gang-involved adult males between the ages of 18 and 24.

Recent headlines

Editorial: Give Second Chance Act another chance

South Carolina has made big strides in reducing recidivism among prison inmates, and some of the credit is due the state’s use of training funds under the Second Chance Act.

Editorial: The Second Chance Act Proves Its Worth

A new study from the National Reentry Resource Center, created under the Second Chance Act, shows that recidivism rates can be significantly reduced when states commit to jailing only people who present a risk to public safety and to helping newly released prisoners find drug treatment, psychiatric counseling and the other services they need for a successful transition to the world beyond bars.

Vermont Competes for Money to Help Ex-offenders

As part of a statewide push to effectively combat drug crime, Vermont will compete with as many as a dozen other states for up to $3 million to support strategies to improve the success rates for keeping ex-offenders from returning to prison.