The U.S. House of Representatives recently 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.
Updates from Capitol Hill
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.
Recently, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved by a 30-1 vote the $56.4 billion Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill, which provides $2.3 billion for Department of Justice state and local law enforcement and crime prevention grant programs that have been proven to reduce recidivism at the state and local level while protecting public safety. The House Appropriations Committee approved their version of the CJS bill on July 13.
“I believe that helping nonviolent offenders get a second chance is a step in the right direction. That’s why I support funding for the Second Chance Act,” Congressman Scott Taylor (R-VA) said. Rehabilitation efforts, such as the ones in the Second Chance Act, will help statewide efforts to reduce the damaging cycle of recidivism.
Recently, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved the $54 billion Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill on a vote of 31-21. The bill includes $29 billion for Department of Justice grants that help fund programs that have been proven to reduce recidivism at the state and local level while protecting public safety.
U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL), recently introduced the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that will allow federal investments in strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety to continue for four more years.
The National Reentry Resource Center and The Council of State Governments Justice Center recently released two briefs at an event on Capitol Hill highlighting efforts to reduce recidivism in communities throughout the country.
The leaders, representing Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Utah, discussed a range of issues with members of President Trump’s Domestic Policy Council and the White House’s Intergovernmental Affairs team, including the importance of reentry and the value of Congress’s Second Chance Act, the need to get business leaders’ insight on putting formerly incarcerated people to work, and more closely examining crime nationally and locally to understand the latest trends.
Recent efforts among state and local leaders to reduce the number of youth who are incarcerated have yielded impressive results: the national juvenile incarceration rate has been cut in half over the past decade. Yet state policymakers, practitioners, and advocates alike recognize that reforming the juvenile justice system requires more than incarcerating fewer youth.
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.
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.
Strategies tested in many states show that there are effective ways to address the challenge of containing rising corrections costs while also increasing public safety.
On March 8, state leaders from Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina convened at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C. to discuss how these states have used the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI)—an approach designed to reduce spending on corrections and reinvest in more effective strategies to reduce recidivism and bolster public safety.
Before the confetti is swept up in celebration of the President’s signing of the 21st Century Cures Act, let’s make sure an important takeaway isn’t lost in the fanfare: this bipartisan bill also illustrates the type of improvements to the criminal justice system everyone can get behind.
Within the wide range of initiatives the omnibus bill supports are several significant criminal justice reform measures related to the issue of mental health, including the enactment of the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act and the reauthorization of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act.