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.

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.

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Bill Allocates $102M in Funding for Key Justice Programs (Updated: May 20)

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.

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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.

Sen. Franken, Rep. Doug Collins Introduce Bipartisan Measure to Combat Mental Health Crisis in Criminal Justice System

Senator Al Franken (MN) and Congressman Doug Collins (GA09) recently introduced the bicameral, bipartisan Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, a bill that aims to improve the ability of local and state governments, as well as law enforcement, to address the unique needs of mentally ill offenders, before and after they enter the criminal justice system. Their legislation reauthorizes, improves and expands the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act.

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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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Congress Funds Key Criminal Justice Programs

Congress funded three key programs championed by the Council of State Governments Justice Center as part of an appropriations bill that provided $26.7 billion to support U.S. Department of Justice programs.

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.

Judiciary Committee Republicans Request Mark-Up of Second Chance Reauthorization Act

Members of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), sent a letter to Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) requesting a mark-up of H.R. 3465, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act.

Editorials

Newspapers Urge Congress to Support Second Chance Act

As Congress prepared for its first formal discussion of reauthorizing the Second Chance Act this week at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, newspapers from across the country gave federal legislators a lot to think about.

Editorial: Second Chance Act Deserves Support

A 6-year-old criminal justice initiative shown to save taxpayers money and help felons become law-abiding citizens is back before Congress for reauthorization.