The Council of State Governments Justice Center Releases Additional Resources to Help Communities Use Stimulus Funding to Advance Justice and Safety Goals

June 16, 2021

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center released additional resources to help states and local communities use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to advance their safety and justice efforts. The updated digital guide incorporates new federal information and outlines eight key areas where ARP funding—including flexible State and Local Recovery Funds—can be leveraged to expand critical resources for people impacted by the justice system, reduce recidivism, and bolster public safety. The CSG Justice Center also hosted a virtual discussion on ways that ARP funding can support collaborative crisis and early diversion responses to reduce criminal justice contact for people with behavioral health needs.

Passed in March 2021, the sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus package aims to combat the COVID-19 virus and address the economic impacts of the pandemic. The scope of the ARP touches on almost every facet of American life, including key issues that intersect with the criminal justice system like housing, education, employment, and behavioral health services. The stimulus package offers an unprecedented opportunity for state and local leaders to invest in public health and safety programs and promote stronger, more equitable communities.

“If spent strategically, American Rescue Plan funding could transform the status quo of our criminal justice system, allowing jurisdictions to invest in the health of their communities, while advancing equity and helping break the cycle of incarceration,” said Megan Quattlebaum, director of the CSG Justice Center. “This is a crucial window of opportunity. Our guide and companion resources are designed to support state and local leaders as they determine how and where to invest ARP funding to create long-term, sustainable change.”

Many states faced immense budget shortfalls last year, necessitating significant cuts to key public services. The ARP’s jolt of funding will be a lifeline for state and local governments, allowing them to reimagine approaches to public health and safety that can continue well beyond the pandemic.

Key ARP funding opportunities outlined in the guide include:

  • $350 billion in flexible state and local emergency funds that can be used to address criminal justice initiatives like promoting stable housing, expanding behavioral health services, and increasing access to continued education
  • $50 billion to implement measures that prevent virus transmission and reduce infection rates in congregate settings, including correctional facilities
  • Over $21 billion to help create employment pathways for people with criminal records
  • Over $160 billion that can be used to expand the availability and quality of postsecondary and career technical education for people in the criminal justice system
  • More than $12 billion dedicated to helping people—including individuals in the justice system—quickly find and maintain affordable housing
  • Over $125 billion to strengthen resources that can minimize young people’s involvement in the juvenile justice system and reduce recidivism
  • Nearly $11 billion for responsive, community-based, and culturally specific supports for people who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault
  • Approximately $27 billion to increase access to health care treatment and services for people in the justice system, including more than $2 billion to invest in community crisis systems and other diversion opportunities that can improve access to behavioral health treatment

The CSG Justice Center encourages people to check back regularly; the guide will continue to be updated as more guidance is issued. The CSG Justice Center will also continue to release additional resources like case studies, webinars, and informational articles to help states and local communities effectively apply ARP resources to advance key safety and justice priorities.

About the Author

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Public Affairs Manager, Communications and External Affairs
Sheridan Watson develops media relations, public affairs, and digital strategies to advance organization-wide initiatives. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, she served for more than 10 years as a spokeswoman and communications advisor for three members of Congress. Previously,
she managed a portfolio of policy issues for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and served in communications roles at the Archdiocese of Washington and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Sheridan earned her ABJ in public relations from the University of Georgia and her MA in legislative affairs from The George Washington University.
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