Second Chance Act, Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Highlighted in House Judiciary Committee Listening Session

December 30, 2015

Screenshot 2015-07-01 11.19.21The reauthorization of Second Chance Act was one of several recommendations brought to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s criminal justice reform listening session on June 25, where members of the House of Representatives were invited to present proposals for criminal justice reform.

Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) told the committee that reentry “should be at the forefront of our discussion,” and emphasized the importance of reauthorizing the Second Chance Act (SCA), which became law in 2008.

The act, Davis argued, “represents a federal investment in strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety, as well as to provide hope for individuals and reduce the cost of corrections for state and local governments.” He described how, since SCA’s implementation, some 90,000 people have benefitted from its grants that provide career training, mentoring, substance use treatment, and other evidence-based reentry programs.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) spoke about the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, which he cosponsored, and which has already been approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“We can do better with the way we treat the mentally ill in the justice system,” Collins said. “We can do it while increasing public safety and reducing costs.”

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) was the focus of Representative Rich Nugent’s (R-FL) presentation to the committee. Nugent emphasized that JMHCP grants—which fund, among other things, mental health courts, veterans courts, and training for law enforcement officers on how to respond to situations involving people with mental disorders—allow local governments to implement programs they couldn’t otherwise, and to then evaluate their effectiveness. JMHCP grants, Nugent said, put “funding in the hands of those with local knowledge to carry out and eventually take over” these programs.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

The Judiciary Committee plans to consider all proposals that were offered during the listening session. To hear the referred proposals, watch Rep. Davis at 1 hr. 39 min.; Rep. Collins at 1 hr. 59 min., and Rep. Nugent at 2 hr. 27 min.

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