By CSG Justice Center Staff
Congressional leaders reached a deal on Sunday, April 30, on a more than $1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill, which will provide new funding for the federal government for the current fiscal year. Congress will need to clear the spending package before current appropriations expire at midnight on Friday, May 5.
The FY 2017 spending bill includes the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which provides $29 billion to support U.S. Department of Justice programs including the Second Chance Act (SCA), the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI).
- SCA originally passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law in 2008. Since its enactment, recipients of SCA grants have worked to improve outcomes for people returning to their communities from prisons and jails by providing vital services—including employment training and assistance, substance use treatment, education, housing, family programming, mentoring, and victims support. SCA grants also support the improvement of corrections and supervision practices that aim to reduce recidivism. There have been more than 800 SCA grants awarded in 49 states, allowing jurisdictions to develop, improve, and expand reentry programs and policies.
- MIOTCRA created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program and seeks to improve access to treatment for people with behavioral health needs in the criminal justice system. The law funds mental health courts, mental health and substance-use treatment for people in the criminal justice system, community reentry services, and local law enforcement training to help officers identify and improve their response to people with mental illnesses. The program was recently reauthorized as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.
- JRI is a data-driven approach that helps states reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest savings in strategies that improve public safety. By managing criminal justice populations more cost effectively through justice reinvestment, states have reported saving and averting costs of $1.1 billion, while investing hundreds of millions to improve community supervision and expand treatment programs that help make communities safer.
The deal reached on the FY 2017 spending bill comes after months of negotiations and concludes a budget process that extended more than halfway into the spending year and spanned two presidential administrations. The spending package could see the House floor by mid-week followed by Senate consideration before the end of the week.