Updates from Capitol Hill

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The Justice Center’s government affairs team works to promote the priorities of CSG members and their partners on Capitol Hill and with the executive branch. Legislative services include educating policymakers on complex criminal justice issues and communicating project findings to legislators that can be applied to policymaking and new practices. The team collaborates with experts from a wide range of disciplines and from all branches of government to ensure that policy and legislative recommendations are practical and based on sound data.

U.S. Senate

Bill to Fund Key Justice Programs Advances out of Senate Appropriations Committee

On the heels of the U.S. House of Representatives’ approval of the FY2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a $51.1 billion spending bill that would fund three key programs championed by the Council of State Governments Justice Center: the Second Chance Act, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.

U.S. Senate

Second Chance Reauthorization Act Introduced in the Senate

In an extraordinary display of bipartisan cooperation, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, which will expand upon the success of the original Second Chance Act by continuing, improving, and consolidating its programs.

Leahy, Portman Reintroduce Bill to Support Ex-Offenders and Reduce Crime

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) joined with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) Thursday to introduce a strengthened version of their earlier bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism and provide those leaving prison with real opportunities to rebuild their lives after they are released.

Jails Are No Substitute for a Mental Health System

Using our criminal justice system as a substitute for a fully functioning mental health system doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense for law enforcement officers, who often put their lives at risk when they are called upon to intervene in a mental health crisis. It doesn’t make sense for courts, which are inundated with cases involving people with mental illness. It doesn’t make sense for people who have mental health conditions, who often would benefit more from treatment and intensive supervision.

Fact Sheets

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The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (Fact Sheet)

A 2006 Department of Justice study showed that approximately 45 percent of federal inmates, 56 percent of state inmates,and 64 percent of jail inmates displayed symptoms or had a history of a mental disorder; among female inmates in state prisons, the rate was nearly three out of four.

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The Second Chance Act (Fact Sheet)

Nearly all of the 1.6 million individuals incarcerated in the U.S. will be released at some point. Individuals returning to their communities from prison or jail have complex challenges and needs that contribute to the likelihood that they may return to incarceration.

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Bill Allocates $102M in Funding for Key Justice Programs (Updated: June 3)

The House Appropriations Subcommittee approved a $51.4 billion spending bill that would fund three key programs championed by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center: the Second Chance Act (SCA), the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.

U.S. Senate

Senate Judiciary Committee Unanimously Approves the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act

This legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and Congressmen Doug Collins (R-GA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) just two weeks ago, aims to improve responses to people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system by supporting and enhancing law enforcement training, mental health and veterans treatment courts, resources for corrections systems, and other collaborative approaches.