American Bar Association to Honor U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2012 — Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD-7th) will receive the American Bar Association’s Congressional Justice Award on April 17 for his support of increased Legal Services Corporation funding and the Second Chance Act, which was designed to reduce recidivism for people returning to their communities from prisons and jails.
With 63 million Americans—including 22 million children—qualifying for assistance, LSC is the nation’s single largest provider of civil legal aid to citizens who live on incomes below or near the poverty line. Independent LSC-funded local programs, like Legal Aid Bureau Inc., help meet the overwhelming legal needs of struggling families, veterans, disaster victims and the elderly in every state. In 2010, LSC-funded aid providers in Maryland closed nearly 7,000 cases including child custody matters, foreclosures and veterans claims.
Last year, Cummings worked to prevent a potentially devastating $104.2 million (25.7 percent) proposed cut to the LSC budget of $404.2 million in fiscal year 2010. While the House of Representatives proposed funding LSC at $300 million, the Senate favored an allocation of $396 million. Ultimately, funding was set at $348 million.
The Second Chance Act, which was signed into law in 2008, provides much-needed opportunities for people returning to their communities from prisons and jails, including employment assistance and job-skills training; substance abuse treatment; housing assistance; family-based programming; individual and group mentoring; and victim support. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 35 percent of the nation’s prison population is incarcerated for parole violations, which illustrates the need for efforts to reduce recidivism and accordingly, alleviate the financial burden on the criminal justice, corrections systems and taxpayers.
Since 2009, more than 300 government agencies and nonprofit organizations from 48 states have received grant awards for re-entry programs serving adults and juveniles. In Maryland, the Baltimore City Health Department received a grant to expand its initiative focusing on youth who are at the highest risk of becoming either a victim or a perpetrator of violence. These second chance funds enabled the program to enhance case management and case planning services to Baltimore youth while they are in placement, as well as increased monitoring referrals, and support for youth and their families following release.
“Congressman Cummings’ service in the House of Representatives as a steadfast advocate for our justice system is a great benefit for our nation and Maryland’s 7th Congressional District,” said ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III.
Cummings will receive one of the six ABA Congressional Justice Awards that will be given as part of the ABA’s annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession. ABA Day 2012 brings distinguished lawyers from 50 states to Washington, D.C., to discuss issues such as funding for LSC, the Violence Against Women Act, and the collection of overdue state court-ordered fees.
Other recipients of the 2012 ABA Congressional Justice Award include Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY-5th).