Funding bill provides greater investment in programs that increase public safety and reduce recidivism
By The Council of State Governments Justice Center Staff
President Trump signed the omnibus fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bill, which provides $30.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and includes $3.02 billion for various state and local law enforcement assistance grant programs.
The bill provides $87.5 million in funding for the Second Chance Act in FY2019. The Second Chance Act, which was originally passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008, authorizes federal grants for vital programs and systems reform aimed at improving the reentry process and reducing recidivism. Since 2009, more than 840 Second Chance grants have been awarded to government agencies and nonprofit organizations from 49 states for reentry programs that have served an estimated 164,000 adults and juveniles. The program was reauthorized last year under the landmark First Step Act.
An increase for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) is also included in the bill, from $25 million in FY2018 to $27 million in FY2019. JRI helps state and local governments conduct comprehensive, data-driven analyses of their criminal justice systems and adopt evidence-based policies designed to reduce corrections spending and increase public safety. Because of the federal investment in JRI, 30 states have used the Justice Reinvestment approach since 2010 to develop policies to slow overall prison growth, and in some states, reduce the total prison population. Through congressional support for JRI, states have reported cumulative savings and averted costs over $1.1 billion and have reinvested more than $550 million in a number of key areas to help make communities safer, including improving community supervision, expanding community-based treatment and services, creating grants to local law enforcement, enhancing victims’ services, and more.
Additionally, the bill provides $31 million for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA). MIOTCRA was signed into law in 2004 and created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) to help state and local governments and tribal communities improve responses to people who have mental illnesses in the criminal justice system. JMHCP also facilitates collaboration among the criminal justice, juvenile justice, and behavioral health systems to better serve people who have behavioral health needs and to increase public safety. To date, MIOTCRA appropriations have funded 176 mental health courts and other court-based initiatives, supported 120 local police departments, and provided 435 grants to 49 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and American Samoa.
Below is a breakdown of the criminal justice programs funded by the bill.