Official coverage of President Bush signing the Second Chance Act
Now available on the White House's official website is this press release with the heading, "President Bush Signs H.R. 1593, the Second Chance Act of 2007." Here are a few excerpts from the statements of the President of the United States that many lawyers might find useful to quote whenever they address state and federal sentencing judges throughout the United States:
I'm about to sign a piece of legislation that will help give prisoners across America a second chance for a better life. This bill is going to support the caring men and women who help America's prisoners find renewal and hope.
I can't thank the folks who care enough about a fellow citizen to offer their love and compassion. It's through the acts of mercy that compassionate Americans are making the nation a more hopeful place, and I want to thank you all for joining us today....
The country was built on the belief that each human being has limitless potential and worth. Everybody matters. We believe that even those who have struggled with a dark past can find brighter days ahead. One way we act on that belief is by helping former prisoners who've paid for their crimes -- we help them build new lives as productive members of our society.
The work of redemption reflects our values. It also reflects our national interests. Each year, approximately 650,000 prisoners are released from jail. Unfortunately, an estimated two-thirds of them are rearrested within three years. The high recidivism rate places a huge financial burden on taxpayers, it deprives our labor force of productive workers, and it deprives families of their daughters and sons, and husbands and wives, and moms and dads.
Our government has a responsibility to help prisoners to return as contributing members of their community. But this does not mean that the government has all the answers. Some of the most important work to help ex-convicts is done outside of Washington, D.C., in faith-based communities and community-based groups. It's done on streets and small town community centers. It's done in churches and synagogues and temples and mosques.
I like to call the folks who are engaged in this compassionate work, "members of the armies of compassion." They help addicts and users break the chains of addiction. They help former prisoners find a ride to work and a meal to eat and place to stay. These men and women are answering the call to love their neighbors as they'd like to be loved themselves. And in the process, they're helping prisoners replace anger and suffering and despair with faith and hope and love.
The bill I'm signing today, the Second Chance Act of 2007, will build on work to help prisoners reclaim their lives. In other words, it basically says: We're standing with you, not against you....
In [various] ways, the Second Chance Act will live up to its name; will help ensure that where the prisoner's spirit is willing, the community's resources are available. It will help our armies of compassion use their healing touch so lost souls can rediscover their dignity and sense of purpose....
And now it is my honor to sign this important piece of legislation. May God bless the country, and may God bless those who are trying to help. Thank you very much.
Though I have never had the honor and privilege to serve in the US Armed Forces, I like the idea that I am a foot soldier in our nation's many "armies of compassion." I also like hearing President Bush ask God to help me for trying to help those who have made a mistake in their lives but need and perhaps even deserve a second chance. The President's inspiring words make me proud to be an American, despite the ugly realities of our collective blissful ignorance about the many economic and human cost of mass incarceration, and I am excited that I am going to go teach a Legislation class in which the signing of this important piece of federal legislation will be the first substantive topic for discussion.
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