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Second Chance Act Programs Supporting Community-Based Mentoring and Transitional Services for Adults

Representative from The Connection Inc.,

Chris Kervick (left) and Kharlton Moore (right) from the National Criminal Justice Association present the 2016 Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award to Jacob Hasson (center left) and Patrick Fallon (center right). Hasson and Fallon’s nonprofit organization, The Connection Inc., received a 2014 Second Chance Act mentoring grant.

Through the Second Chance Act, multiple programs have provided funding for nonprofit organizations—including faith-based, tribal, and community-based nonprofit organizations—and federally recognized tribal communities to provide mentoring and other transitional services for adults returning to their communities after incarceration. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) administer the awards.

Second Chance Act Comprehensive Community-Based Adult Reentry Program

This grant program supports nonprofit and tribal organizations that provide comprehensive reentry services to program participants who are screened, assessed, and identified as qualified for program participation before their release from a correctional facility. During the post-release phase of the reentry program, participants receive case management services and are connected to evidence-based programming designed to ensure that the transition from prison or jail to the community is safe and successful. Beginning in 2018, the program has two categories: Category 1, which applies to larger nonprofits, and Category 2, which applies to small or rural organizations with an annual operating budget of one million dollars or less.

Organizations that receive funding through this grant program must:

  • Establish a memorandum of understanding or agreement with their partner correctional agency and the facility from which participants will be recruited;
  • Use a validated criminogenic risk and needs assessment;
  • Serve a minimum of 150 people who are assessed as having a medium to high risk of reoffending for Category 1 grantees; or
  • Serve a minimum of 75 people for Category 2 grantees.

Allowable uses for grant funds include:

  • Using reliable, locally validated risk and needs assessment tools to match people with appropriate treatment and reentry services;
  • Supporting a comprehensive range of reentry services that target criminogenic risk, including cognitive-behavioral programming; educational, vocational, and job placement services; transitional employment; substance addiction treatment; supportive housing; mental health and medical care; and programs that promote family reunification;
  • Providing pre- and post-release mentoring;
  • Providing sustained case planning and management in the community;
  • Implementing staff training, coaching, and performance evaluations on newly adopted evidence-based practices;
  • Planning and implementing strategies to expand options for access to health benefits;
  • Coordinating civil legal aid services; and
  • Developing or enhancing data systems. 

For more information, see the most recent BJA grant solicitation and webinar.

Prior to the creation of this grant program, the following programs supported community-based reentry services for adults, with a focus on mentoring:

Second Chance Act Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Parents With Minor Children

This program promotes and expands services in detention and correctional facilities to incarcerated people who have children under the age of 18. This program provides states, territories, and units of local government with funding to implement positive family engagement strategies and activities that address the needs of incarcerated parents with minor children. Program activities include developing strategies to increase communication between the child and their incarcerated parent while maintaining safe facilities and providing transitional reentry services that incorporate a focus on parental responsibility for incarcerated parents.

The objectives of this program are to:

  • Reduce the incarcerated parent’s behavioral infractions during incarceration and chances of recidivating after release;
  • Provide services that foster positive youth development for children of incarcerated parents; these services may include, but are not limited to, mentoring for these children; and
  • Develop innovative approaches that will enhance parent/child communication, such as the use of tele-visiting, emailing, letter writing, audio recordings, and transportation assistance for in-person visits.

For more information, see the most recent OJJDP grant solicitation and webinar.

Second Chance Act Strengthening Relationships Between Young Fathers, Young Mothers, and Their Children

This grant program supported the implementation and delivery of culturally appropriate and gender-specific transitional services that included one-on-one, group, and peer mentoring services for young fathers and mothers up to age 24 in the criminal justice system. Other services included a broad range of activities, such as providing case management, assessing both the risk factors and personal strengths that affect recidivism, substance addiction treatment, and other supportive, comprehensive services.

For more information, see the most recent OJJDP grant solicitation from 2016.

Current and Past Grantees:

BJA has awarded 201 grants for community-based reentry services; OJJDP has awarded 39: