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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson June 10, 2021

Biden’s budget proposes more support for incarcerated people, reentry programs

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised to expand services for incarcerated and recently released Americans. His budget proposal takes a step in that direction.

Biden's pledge focused on expanding access to mental health and substance use treatment, educational opportunities, and job training, as well as lifting barriers that keep previously incarcerated people from accessing public assistance.

Biden's fiscal year 2022 budget proposal for the Justice Department, released in May, would increase funding to ease reentry after prison. It would do this primarily through additional funding for programs under the Second Chance Act, which was passed with bipartisan support and signed by President George W. Bush in 2008, then reauthorized by the First Step Act signed by President Donald Trump in 2018.

Biden's budget proposes a $25 million increase in Second Chance Act programs, which address reentry through such issues as housing, education, employment assistance, mentoring, substance use treatment, and mental health care.

The request, which would raise the program's funding from $100 million to $125 million, is intended to help the department make awards, conduct training, and provide technical assistance to state, local and tribal governments on reentry-related issues.

Separately, Biden followed up on the portion of his promise addressing public assistance for formerly incarcerated people. He included it in his American Families Plan proposal, released in April.

The administration said it would allow people convicted of a drug-related felony to receive funds from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps.

"Denying these individuals — many of whom are parents of young children — SNAP benefits jeopardizes nutrition security and poses a barrier to reentry into the community in a population that already faces significant hurdles to obtaining employment and stability," the White House said.

The president's budget proposal projects that this change would cost an additional $106 million in fiscal year 2022 and an additional $776 million between fiscal years 2023 and 2031.

There is no guarantee that Congress will go along with the levels laid out in Biden's budget proposal; spending legislation will take months to determine. 

Still, Biden has carried over his campaign promise into his official budget proposal. We rate the promise In the Works.

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