Psychologist Roger Peters, PhD, testified on Capitol Hill in March in support of the Second Chance Act, a bill to provide substance abuse treatment for those transitioning out of the prison system. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee passed the bill in late March.
At the hearing, Peters underscored the importance of mental health services in offender rehabilitation; the effectiveness of short- vs. longer-term treatment services to those in re-entry programs; and the special needs of older offenders.
He delivered his testimony to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security of the House Judiciary Committee, along with representatives of various corrections facilities, faith-based programs, Goodwill Industries and nonprofit residential work programs. Peters conducts research on the integration of drug abuse treatment in criminal justice settings at the University of South Florida's Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute in Tampa, Fla. He is chair and professor in the institute's department of mental health law and policy. APA Science Government Relations Office (GRO) staff had worked with the subcommittee, urging them to include a research perspective.
After the hearing, Peters and Science GRO staff visited Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who had expressed concerns during the hearing about the lingering effects of gang violence and prison rape on those trying to restart their lives via re-entry programs. Peters's appearance was timely as he served as a reviewer on the recently published National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) guide "Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations." Science GRO staff arranged for the January delivery of the guide to every member of Congress as part of an ongoing education campaign on behalf of the Friends of NIDA Coalition.
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