By the CSG Justice Center Staff
Congress approved a $1.15 trillion Omnibus Appropriations 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. The spending bill includes the fiscal year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which provides $28.7 billion to support U.S. Department of Justice programs.
Within the CJS bill, nearly $68 million is provided for SCA funding, $10 million for MIOTCRA (a $1.5 million increase from last year), and $27.5 million for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (see chart below).
Early this year, Congressional leaders took strong, bipartisan action in support of these three criminal justice programs, which are intended to increase public safety, reduce recidivism, and help state and local governments address their criminal justice challenges. For example:
- Congressmen Danny Davis (D-IL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) circulated a letter supporting Second Chance funding. The Second Chance Act represents a federal investment in strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety, as well as to reduce corrections costs for state and local governments. The House letter had 77 signatures, while the Senate letter had 29 signatures.
- Congressmen Doug Collins (R-GA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), and John Conyers (D-MI), and Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) circulated a letter supporting continued funding for MIOTCRA, the act that created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, which seeks to improve access to treatment for people with mental disorders involved in the criminal justice system by funding initiatives such as mental health courts and crisis intervention teams. The House letter had 83 signatures, while the Senate letter had 23 signatures.
- Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) circulated a letter supporting continued funding of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which is a data-driven approach to reduce criminal justice spending (especially spending on corrections) and reinvest savings in evidence-based strategies that increase public safety while holding offenders accountable. The House letter had 41 signatures, while the Senate letter had 12 signatures.
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