By CSG Justice Center Staff
Congressional leaders in May took strong bipartisan action in support of three programs—the Second Chance Act (SCA), the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI)—aimed at increasing public safety and reducing recidivism at the local and state level.
- Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ and Rob Portman (R-OH) gathered signatures from 28 members of the Senate in support of continued funding for SCA, which originally passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law in April 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. The grants also support the improvement of corrections and supervision practices that aim to reduce recidivism. There have been more than 800 grants awarded in 49 states, allowing jurisdictions to develop, improve, and expand reentry programs and policies.
- Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) gathered signatures from 26 members of the Senate in support of continued funding for MIOTCRA, which created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program and seeks to improve access to treatment for people with mental illnesses 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 responses to people with mental illnesses. The program was recently reauthorized as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.
- Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Thom Tillis gathered signatures from 21 members of the Senate in support of continued funding for JRI, 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 averting costs of $1.1 billion, while investing hundreds of millions to improve community supervision and expand treatment programs that help make communities safer.
In April, members of the House of Representatives expressed similar support for these programs.