U.S. Senators Express Support for Key Justice Programs

May 2, 2019

Senate leaders in April took strong bipartisan action in support of three programs in FY 2020—the Second Chance Act, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI)—aimed at increasing public safety and reducing recidivism at the local and state levels.

  • U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rob Portman (R-OH) gathered 30 signatures from members of the Senate in support of continued funding for the Second Chance Act, which was reauthorized as part of the landmark First Step Act. Since its enactment, recipients of Second Chance Act grants have worked to improve outcomes for people returning to their communities from prisons and jails, providing vital services—including employment training and assistance, substance use disorder treatment, education, housing, family programming, mentoring, and victims support. There have been more than 900 grants awarded in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, allowing jurisdictions to develop, improve, and expand reentry programs and policies. Second Chance Act grantees have served more than 164,000 participants since 2009. A 2018 report from the National Reentry Resource Center highlighted states that have had significant reductions in recidivism aided by Second Chance Act grants, including Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) gathered 30 signatures from members of the Senate in support of continued funding for MIOTCRA. The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program—authorized under MIOTCRA and reauthorized under the 21st Century Cures Act—ensures criminal justice and mental health systems throughout the country have the funds they need to serve some of the nation’s most vulnerable people. The law funds mental health courts, mental health and substance-use disorders treatment for people in the criminal justice system, community reentry services, and local law enforcement training to help officers identify and improve their responses to people who have mental health needs. To date, MIOTCRA appropriations have funded 186 mental health courts and other court-based initiatives, supported 146 local police departments, and provided 483 grants to 49 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and American Samoa.
  • U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) gathered 25 signatures from members of the Senate in support of continued funding for JRI, a data-driven approach that helps states reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest their savings in strategies that improve public safety. Since 2010, more than 30 states have deployed the justice reinvestment approach to develop policies to slow overall prison growth, and for some states, reduce the total prison population. States have reported cumulative savings and averted more than $1.1 billion in costs while also investing millions in effective supervision and treatment programs to make communities safer, including improving community supervision, expanding community-based treatment and services, creating grants to support local law enforcement, enhancing victims’ services, and more.
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