Reschenthaler’s bipartisan bill helping formerly incarcerated individuals passes House

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler

The U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 8 unanimously approved a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) that would authorize grants to connect offenders transitioning from prisons or jails to the community with local reentry services.

The One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act of 2020, H.R. 8161, was introduced in September by Rep. Reschenthaler and bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA). The bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to award grants to community-based nonprofits for community reentry centers, which must provide comprehensive services tailored to meet the needs of individuals returning to a particular community. Such services could include help with finding employment and applying for public benefits, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“I am grateful to [Rep.] Bass for working with me to end the revolving door between prison and the streets and empower formerly incarcerated individuals to take control of their futures, all while making our neighborhoods safer,” Rep. Reschenthaler said.

Additionally, H.R. 8161 would authorize DOJ to award grants to states and localities for toll-free hotlines that direct callers to local reentry services, according to the summary, which noted that DOJ also must develop best practices for setting up the hotlines.

“I know from my time as a district judge in southwestern Pennsylvania that the best way to be tough on crime is to reduce recidivism, which means fewer crimes and fewer victims,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “Today the House took an important step towards that goal by passing the One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act, which will help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reintegrate into society and contribute to their communities.”

The U.S. Senate on Dec. 9 received HR. 8161 and referred it for consideration to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.