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NAACP Supports Assisting Ex-Offenders Reentering Society and Reducing Recidivism

WHEREAS, the United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.1 million people currently in the nation's prisons or jails; and

WHEREAS, as of 2005, 1 out of every 136 Americans was incarcerated in prison or jail; the numbers are much worse if you are a racial or ethnic minority American – 1 in 8 African-American males (12%) aged 25-29 was in prison or jail 2005 as were 1 in 26 Hispanic males (4%) in the same age group. Comparatively, 1 in 59 Caucasian males in the 25-29 age group were incarcerated in 2005 (1.7%); and

WHEREAS, in 2005, over 40% of prison inmates were African-American and 20% were Hispanics; and

WHEREAS, over 600,000 prisoners are released each year, and given the disproportionate number of whom are African-American and Hispanic, this is having dramatic and disparate repercussions on particular neighborhoods and communities of color; and

WHEREAS, up to two-thirds of all released prisoners nationwide end up back in prison within just 3 years; and

WHEREAS, there are many reasons for this high recidivism rate – many ex-offenders cannot manage to find and keep effective jobs and care for themselves and/or their families; and

WHEREAS, as a result, many ex-offenders become a drain on their families, their communities and the social service system; and

WHEREAS, the Second Chance Act is intended to help the more than 650,000 men and women who are released from prison each year re-enter society by providing state and local communities with federal assistance to establish ex-offender reentry projects, with enhanced focus on job training, housing, substance abuse and mental health treatment, as well as programs to work towards the reunification of children and families of ex- offenders; and

WHEREAS, on February 25, 2009 the House of Representatives approved an omnibus appropriations bill for the remainder of the 2009 fiscal year that included $25 million for the Second Chance Act, including $15 million for state and local demonstration grants and $10 million for nonprofits grants. Furthermore, in the preliminary budget for fiscal year 2010 released on February 26, 2009, President Obama requested $109 million for prisoner reentry programs, including $75 million for Second Chance Act programs.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports full funding of the Second Chance Act so that states and communities can begin to address the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP strongly supports the elimination of federal barriers to programs to help very low income Americans simply because the American in question is an ex-offender; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports H.R. 329, the Food Assistance to Improve Reintegration Act of 2009 introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA) which repeals the denial of food stamp eligibility for a person convicted of a felony which has an element of the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance.