Second Chance Act

The Second Chance Act (SCA) supports state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations in their work to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for people returning from state and federal prisons, local jails, and juvenile facilities. Passed with bipartisan support and signed into law on April 9, 2008, SCA legislation authorizes federal grants for vital programs and systems reform aimed at improving the reentry process.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) funds and administers the Second Chance Act grants. Within OJP, the Bureau of Justice Assistance awards SCA grants serving adults, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention awards grants serving youth. Since 2009, more than 700 awards have been made to grantees across 49 states.

Current and Past Programs:

Adult and Juvenile Reentry Demonstration

Mentoring for Adults, Young Fathers, and Juveniles

Reentry for Adults and Juveniles with Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction

Statewide Juvenile Reentry Systems Reform

Smart Supervision

Technology Careers Training

Supporting Latino/a Youth from Out-of-Home Placement to the Community

Strengthening Families and Children of Incarcerated Parents

Family-Based Adult Offender Substance Abuse Treatment

Reentry Courts


Who is eligible to apply for grants? Depending on the specific Second Chance Act grant program, state and local government agencies, federally recognized Indian tribes, and nonprofit organizations may be eligible to apply. Please review the pages on each grant program to determine eligibility.

When can I apply for grants? Solicitations for Second Chance Act applications are typically released throughout the first half of each calendar year. Please subscribe to updates from the National Reentry Resource Center to hear about these solicitations and other funding opportunities.

Is it allowable to assist persons reentering the community from federal prisons under a Second Chance Act program? Yes. Grantees receiving Second Chance Act funds may use those funds to provide assistance to individuals returning to the community following incarceration, including incarceration in a federal prison.

Is it allowable to assist exonerees under a Second Chance Act program? Yes. Grantees receiving Second Chance Act funds may use those funds to provide assistance to exonerees, along with other individuals returning to the community following incarceration

How can I find Second Chance Act programs near me? The National Criminal Justice Initiatives Map has information on where grantees of the Second Chance Act and other federal grant programs are located.

Second Chance Act in the News

Boston: A City of Second Chances

One in four Americans has had some sort of contact with the criminal justice system, and they often encounter what must seem like an unending barrage of collateral penalties designed to keep them from returning to society as productive citizens.

Opinion: Return on a Chance

Many people–too many people–face unnecessary obstacles to reentry. In order to successfully reenter society, they must navigate a maze of over 45,000 barriers to employment, housing, and civic participation, which may be triggered as a result of their contact with the criminal justice system. The long-term consequences of a criminal record hamper their ability to contribute to society, even after they have served their time and stand ready to serve their community.

House Judiciary Passes Bill to Help Prisoners Reenter Society

The House Judiciary Committee passed the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2015 by a voice vote. The bill reauthorizes grant funding for both public and private re-entry programs, including academic and vocational education for offenders in prison, jails and juvenile facilities.