U.S. Senators Express Support for Vital Justice Programs

By CSG Justice Center Staff

U.S. CapitolSenators in April took strong bipartisan action in support of three programs for FY2019—the Second Chance Act, 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 state and local level.

  • U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) gathered 29 signatures from members of the Senate in support of continued funding for the Second Chance Act, which marks its 10th anniversary this year. Since its enactment, recipients of Second Chance Act grants have worked to improve outcomes for people returning to their communities from prisons and jails, providing vital services—including employment training and assistance, substance addiction treatment, education, housing, family programming, mentoring, and victims support. More than 840 grants have been awarded in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, allowing jurisdictions to develop, improve, and expand reentry programs and policies. Second Chance Act grantees have served more than 164,000 participants since 2009. A 2017 brief from the National Reentry Resource Center highlights advancements made in state and local governments’ approaches to reentry and reducing recidivism since the passage of the Second Chance Act.
  • U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) gathered 29 signatures from members of the Senate in support of continued funding for MIOTCRA. The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program—authorized under MIOTCRA and reauthorized under the 21st Century Cures Act—ensures that the criminal justice and mental health systems have the funds they need to serve some of the nation’s most vulnerable people. The law funds mental health courts, mental illness and addiction 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 who have mental illnesses. 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.
  • U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) gathered 16 signatures from 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. Since 2010, more than 30 states have deployed the justice reinvestment approach to develop policies to slow overall prison growth and, for some states, reduce the total prison population. States have reported cumulative savings and averted costs of more than $1.1 billion and have reinvested more than $550 million in a number of areas to help make communities safer, including improving probation and parole, expanding community-based treatment and services, creating grants to local law enforcement, enhancing victims services, and more.

Source: JusticeCenter

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