09.18.14

Leahy Bills OKd by Judiciary Committee…To Reduce Prison Recidivism And Crack Down On Human Trafficking Involving Runaway And Homeless Youths --

WASHINGTON (Thursday, September 18, 2014) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to reauthorize the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism.  

In recent months, the Committee has considered ways to reduce prison costs for federal, state and local governments.  Approval of the Second Chance Act on Thursday is the latest in that effort.  The bill extends a 2008 law aimed at tackling those costs by improving prisoner reentry policy at the state and federal levels, ultimately decreasing the number of repeat offenders.  The bill, which Leahy introduced last year with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), was approved on a bipartisan 13-5 vote.

“The Second Chance Reauthorization is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to ensure that offenders coming out of prison have the opportunity to turn their lives around, rather than returning to a life of crime,” Leahy said.  “Investing in reentry programs improves public safety and saves taxpayer dollars.  It is also the right thing to do.”

The Committee also approved bipartisan legislation to curb youth homelessness that affects 1.6 million teens throughout the country.  The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act, also authored by Leahy along with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), reauthorizes a critical federal grant program established to help states and local communities address the needs of runaway and homeless youth in both urban and rural areas.  The bill also includes important new language to combat human trafficking, which has become a rising problem about the nation’s homeless youth population.  The Committee also approved an amendment from Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) to add additional trafficking protections, and approved the final legislation on a bipartisan 15-3 vote.

“It is critical we provide vulnerable youth with the resources and support they need,” Leahy said. “Homeless children are less likely to finish school, more likely to enter our juvenile justice system, and are ill-equipped to find a job.  The services authorized by this bill are designed to intervene early and encourage the development of successful, productive young adults.”

Nine nominees to fill vacancies on our Federal district courts and one nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims were also reported on Thursday.  Those nominees now join the seven district court and five U.S. Court of Federal Claims nominees awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.  There are currently 59 judicial vacancies throughout the country, and Leahy urged the Senate to approve the pending nominees who could fill some of those seats today.

Results and a webcast of Thursday’s executive business meeting can be found online

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