WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act to create resource centers to support people transitioning from incarceration and connect them with the services they need to reintegrate into their communities. Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, and Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

The bill will help reduce instances of reoffense by providing grants to community-based organizations and other eligible entities to create Community Reentry Centers to support formerly incarcerated people. According to a U.S. Sentencing Commission report, the average national recidivism rate is 49.3% over 8 years, in part because many people do not have access to resources like medical care, housing, and ID cards when they are released from prison. 

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand how people can struggle when they are released from prison because they do not have access to the tools they need to succeed,” said Klobuchar. “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.”

“Newly-released offenders often aren’t aware of the resources available to them and struggle to find jobs, housing, and mental health services,” said Cornyn. “This legislation would provide grants for community organizations to set up Community Re-entry Centers to help former inmates get back on their feet.”

“The expectation that individuals are successful and won’t reoffend after being given $10 and a bus ticket is absolutely ridiculous,” said Bass. “85 percent of incarcerated individuals are eventually released. Our society presents countless obstacles for individuals who have already paid their debts to society: it’s harder for them to find jobs, it’s harder for them to find housing, and it’s harder for them to be able to pay for a quality education. These obstacles without adequate resources make it more likely for people to reoffend. As the majority of people in custody will be released at some point, it is essential that we provide resources for recidivism prevention. The bill we have introduced today fights back against that statistic and helps people get back on their feet and reintegrated into society in a productive way and the hope is that these centers are one day going to be run by returning citizens themselves.”

“From my time serving as a district judge in southwestern Pennsylvania, I learned the best way to be tough on crime is to reduce recidivism, which means fewer crimes, fewer victims, and safer neighborhoods,” said Reschenthaler. “The One Stop Shop Act, which passed the House by voice vote last Congress, will end the revolving door between prison and the streets by providing formerly incarcerated individuals with housing, education, and employment resources to facilitate successful reentry into society. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Bass to once again advance this important legislation.”

The One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act would create Community Reentry Centers providing:

  • Assistance with finding and maintaining employment
  • Job skills training
  • Assistance locating and retaining housing
  • Help obtaining driver’s licenses and ID cards
  • Assistance with applications for student loans and college admission
  • Financial counseling
  • Access to mobile phones and internet access
  • Mentorship
  • Medical and mental health services
  • Substance use disorder treatment
  • Application or reactivation of professional and other licenses
  • Legal assistance for:
    • Record expungement
    • Forfeiture of property or assets
    • Family law and custody matters
    • Legal Aid Services
    • Family counseling
    • General problem solving when maneuvering the court system, such as electronic monitoring compliance, court-ordered substance abuse, restrictions on living with certain family members, and other court-ordered requirements

In April, Klobuchar and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced a resolution designating April as “Second Chance Month,” honoring those who work to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society. The resolution passed unanimously.

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