By CSG Justice Center Staff
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the $1.2 trillion Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill on a vote of 211-198. The omnibus includes the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill, which provides $29 billion for Department of Justice (DOJ) grants that help fund programs that have been proven to reduce recidivism at the state and local level while protecting public safety.
The proposed CJS bill provides $68 million in continued support for the Second Chance Act (SCA), which was originally passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008. SCA authorizes federal grants for vital programs and systems reform aimed at improving the reentry process and reducing recidivism. Since 2009, more than 800 SCA grants have been awarded to government agencies and nonprofit organizations from 49 states for reentry programs that have served more than 137,000 adults and juveniles. In June, U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL) introduced the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2017, which would renew funding for these programs.
The CJS bill also provides $25 million for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), which 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 federal investments in JRI, 30 states have pursued justice reinvestment-related policies, which have slowed overall prison growth and reduced the total prison population in some states. These states reported cost savings exceeding $1.1 billion in averted prison operating and construction costs, and through justice reinvestment, have been able to provide hundreds of millions to effective supervision and treatment programs to make their communities safer.
Additionally, the CJS bill includes $14 million for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA). An amendment by U.S. Rep Tim Murphy (R-PA) increased funding for the program by $2 million. MIOTCRA was signed into law in 2004 and created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program to help state and local governments and tribal communities improve responses to people who have mental illnesses in the criminal justice system. The program 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 121 mental health courts and other court-based initiatives, supported more than 100 local police and county sheriff departments, and provided a total of 380 grants to 47 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and American Samoa.
Below is a breakdown of the criminal justice programs funded by the bill.
These funding levels for 2018 will not be finalized until Congress passes a spending bill. Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of members of Congress signaled their support for continued funding for SCA, JRI, and MIOTCRA by signing letters of support for all three programs.
For the text of the legislation and the bill reports, click here.