Congress Wants To Set Up One-Stop Shops To Help People Stay Out Of Prison

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NPR: Claudia Grisales - May 20, 2021


In an effort to reduce crime among formerly incarcerated individuals, a bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers are joining forces to introduce legislation Thursday to create new resource centers to help ex-prisoners get a new start.


Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas; and House Reps. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., are launching the proposal to offer new access to housing, medical care, job searches and legal services.


Bass and Reschenthaler introduced the One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act during the previous legislative session, where it was passed by the House. However, it failed to get traction in the Senate, where it now has a new set of bipartisan sponsors to introduce it for the first time.


"This bipartisan legislation would help reduce the chance that people transitioning from incarceration will reoffend by creating resource centers to coordinate access to job training, medical and mental health services, and financial counseling," said Klobuchar, a former prosecutor in her home state.


The bill, introduced in the lower chamber last September, passed by a House voice vote in December. Now, its sponsors are hoping new momentum will get the measure over the finish line as policing and criminal justice reform draw closer scrutiny this year.


Lawmakers say the plan would reduce offenses among newly released prisoners who struggle without access to critical tools. The national average rate of crime after leaving incarceration, also known as the recidivism rate, is 49.3% during an eight-year period, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.


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