Criminal Justice Guide to 2023 State of the State Speeches

February 28, 2023

As the COVID-19 pandemic became more manageable in 2022, states across the country began to focus on other challenges, some of which were exacerbated by the pandemic. This is reflected in this year’s State of the State addresses in which many governors called out opioid use, mental health issues, and violent crime as top concerns.  

Other issues governors focused on include investing in law enforcement retention, recruitment, and training; imposing harsher sentences on fentanyl dealers; and bolstering crisis response efforts. A number of governors also noted the success of the 988 suicide and crisis hotline rollout and the need to increase housing to reduce homelessness. 

Justice Issues Covered by Governors in Their State of the State Remarks (as of February 23, 2023) 

Law Enforcement  20 mentions 
Substance/Opioid Use  17 
Violent Crime  15 
Mental Health  13 
Behavioral Health  8 
Crisis Response  6 
Housing  6 
Nonviolent Crime   6 
Public Safety  6 
Corrections  5 
Juvenile Justice  4 
Bail  2 
Courts  1 
Reentry/Employment  1 


Click on each state below to see excerpts pertaining to criminal justice from the governors’ 2023 State of the State speeches


Mike Dunleavy (R)
Nonviolent Crime, Substance/Opioid Use 

“As I announced in October, I’ll be introducing legislation that declares war on those who are recklessly dealing fentanyl and fentanyl-laced drugs in our communities. The morally bankrupt who are peddling drugs know that death is a possibility, and they don’t give a rip. . . . 

Right now, under current law, this act can only be charged as manslaughter with a maximum sentence of just 20 years. Under my legislation, we’ll increase this penalty to second-degree murder with a sentence of up to 99 years. These people deserve nothing less. . . . 

As we focus on enforcement and intercepting this deadly fentanyl poison, we must also be focused on treatment as well. If you’re struggling with addiction, we’ll work with you to help you find treatment. . . . Through our Department of Health, and in conjunction with our schools and nonprofit partners, we’ll do everything possible to educate Alaskans so they don’t become addicted. But if you do, we’ll continue our work to end the stigma around addiction so that people who are struggling will seek help and get it. These initiatives require resources, but we are better positioned to fund them today thanks to our work over the past four years.” 


Katie Hobbs (D)
Mental Health 

“We need to prioritize hiring social workers and counselors for our schools to address the mental health crisis among children and teens. Currently each counselor in an Arizona school provides services for more than 700 kids on average. That’s the highest ratio in the nation and nearly three times the recommended standard. That’s unacceptable and we must do better.”


Jared Polis (D)
Juvenile Justice, Law Enforcement, Nonviolent Crime, Violent Crime   

“I want to commend our legislators who helped pass last year’s public safety package . . . From investments in recruitment and retention for local law enforcement to physical improvements in our communities and support for proven crime prevention strategies—this bipartisan collaboration is already beginning to have an impact. . . . 

Thanks to legislation passed last year . . ., Boys and Girls Clubs in Colorado received funding to launch a pilot across 21 club sites in 15 counties to provide meaningful enrichment opportunities outside of school to help youth reach their full potential and avoid entering the justice system. . . . 

To build on this work, I’m proposing an additional package that will provide even more resources for local law enforcement officers and community organizations doing work on the ground. 

This funding will also help us crack down on auto theft with stronger tools like technology to help us locate and return stolen vehicles, an auto-theft task force, and greater support for District Attorneys in communities with high rates of auto theft to help them successfully prosecute the criminals responsible. . . . 

[The] mayors of the three largest cities in our state [Colorado Springs, Aurora, and Denver]—Republican and Democratic—have helped identify tools to successfully fight crime in their communities and together we want the state to step up and be a more constructive partner in this work. I join their recent bipartisan call to action including greater penalties for car theft, deterring unlawful weapon possession by felons, and cracking down on ghost guns, which are completely untraceable and increasingly being used to carry out violent crimes.” 


John Carney (D)
Violent Crime 

“We’re working with leaders in Wilmington and Dover to expand our Group Violence
Intervention Program—to reduce gun violence. Our collective efforts have shown good results.
Statewide, shootings are down nearly 30 percent since last year. There’s a lot more work to do,
for sure. Gun violence anywhere is unacceptable—and we need everyone to make this a priority.”


Brian Kemp (R)
Violent Crime  

“Early in my first term, we created the GBI’s Anti-Gang Task Force to take the fight to these criminals. And last year, you gave the state a new tool to ensure justice—the Gang Prosecution Unit in the Office of Attorney General Chris Carr. 

I’m grateful that the Attorney General and his team have already indicted over fifty gang members in just the first six months of standing up this Unit, with more on the way! . . . 

In communities across our state, gangs are actively recruiting children as young as elementary school students into a life of crime. They are targeting the most innocent among us, pulling them down a dark path that too often leads to either a prison cell or the cemetery. 

That is why, along with the Attorney General, I’m proposing legislation that will increase penalties for those trying to recruit our children into a gang.” 


Josh Green (D)
Behavioral Health, Corrections, Housing, Mental Health   

“To replace the [O‘ahu Community Correctional Center], we need to build a modern, new correctional facility that is safe, secure, and humane, that has the capacity to provide rehabilitation, counseling, education, and job training opportunities to inmates, at the same time it protects the public.

Almost all of those convicted of non-violent crimes and held in our correctional facilities
will one day return to our communities, and will be living alongside us as our neighbors.
We must move toward a restorative approach to justice rather than strictly punitive one. . . .

We are adding and emphasizing several high priority items related to housing, homelessness, the cost of living, climate, environment, and mental health.

Some important specific items in the financial plan include: 

  • Additional ‘Ohana zones funds, which put homeless individuals into permanent housing to give them a chance to thrive. . . . 
  • Over 60 new positions to expand nursing and medical programs across our UH campuses, with a special emphasis on behavioral health. . . . 
  • The firm establishment of the Office of Wellness & Resilience within the Governor’s Office, to focus on trauma informed care. . . . 
  • Adding critical mental health resources for our schools and our communities. . . .” 

Brad Little (R)
Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use 

“We are taking steps now to protect our youth from fentanyl, and all of these steps grew
out of our Operation Esto Perpetua initiative last year.

To root out this growing problem, I am calling for the development of a new statewide
drug interdiction team at the Idaho State Police. In addition, enhanced testing and training and a new educational awareness campaign we just launched will help. . . .

We’re also making a difference with our investments in safe and healthy communities.
We’re on track to advance all of the recommendations from our historic three-branch
Behavioral Health Council, and this year my IDAHO FIRST plan does even more to improve
resources for troubled youth in mental health crises. We are also going to make behavioral health services more accessible for the neediest of our neighbors and add more doctors for rural Idaho and more healthcare workers overall.”


J. B. Pritzker (D)
Behavioral Health, Housing, Juvenile Justice, Law Enforcement, Violent Crime

“In 2022, Illinois State Police’s Metropolitan Enforcement Groups and Drug Task Forces across the state seized 679 firearms and over 13 tons of drugs including multiple major interdictions of deadly fentanyl, and 1,942 individuals involved in crimes were arrested. With increased patrols and technology, ISP cut the number of homicides on Chicago area expressways by 88% and shootings dropped nearly in half. That’s real progress, and this year’s budget continues funding the hiring of additional troopers and upgrading the tools to catch perpetrators. . . .

Today in Illinois there is no single, consistent front door for young people or for families to walk through if they need behavioral health care. There is no central website that parents can search or phone number to call. Instead, they are left to navigate a confusing and overlapping multiple agency bureaucracy on their own.

That’s going to change. The FY24 budget invests $10 million to create our first care portal and resource referral tools for families seeking care. They can learn about the resources available to them and be matched with what meets their needs best, all in one place.

Nearly a year ago, I launched the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative to evaluate and redesign the delivery of behavioral health services for children and adolescents throughout our state. . . .

In alignment with the initiative’s recommendations, we are investing another $10 million towards a two-year expansion of the Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services program focused on youth aged 11 to 17 who are at risk of involvement in the child welfare system or the juvenile justice system. This funding will expand 24/7 services to youth—including assessments, crisis stabilization, and housing. . . .

Today, I am proud to unveil Home Illinois, a plan with a goal to invest $50 million this year into prevention, crisis response, housing units, and staffing.”


Eric Holcomb (R)
Courts, Crisis Response, Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use

“Our health and wellbeing challenges of course extend to addressing mental health problems, helping Hoosiers defeat addiction, maternal and infant mortality, and assisting our veterans who face double the risk of dying by suicide than other groups.

So, our localized pathways to improvement must include programs to attack these issues, close to home, by building sustainable systems that prevent and respond to a crisis—like our 988 system is doing today—and investing in data-driven, evidence-based community programs with the opioid settlement funds we’re now receiving. . . .

I am asking the General Assembly to join me by increasing school safety grants by 30%, fully funding our courts’ request to upgrade technology and make greater use of our problem-solving courts . . .”


Kim Reynolds (R)
Nonviolent Crime, Substance/Opioid Use

“Overdoses are up by more than 34%, and for Iowans under 25, they’re more than double. In 2021, illicit fentanyl was implicated in 83% of all Iowa’s opioid-related deaths, compared to just 31% five years ago. . . .

I’m proud to announce that tomorrow the State is launching a public-awareness campaign to help parents understand the threat of fentanyl and how to protect their kids from it. . . .

I’m calling on the legislature to increase penalties for manufacturing and distributing fentanyl in any amount. That means longer sentences and higher fines, even where the quantity is small. And when an overdose leads to death or serious injury, the sentences will be even steeper.

We must also make sure that life-saving treatment is readily available. Today, only pharmacists can distribute naloxone, the drug that reverses the effects of an overdose. Let’s change that; let’s give our first responders the tools they need to save lives and allow them to get naloxone into the hands of the individuals who need it most.”


Laura Kelly (D)
Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use

“Much like the nation as a whole, we are at a crisis point here in Kansas when it comes to mental health. Recently, a study by Mental Health America ranked Kansas last in the country on rates of mental illness and access to mental health services.

In the past, we have taken action on this. We’ve launched 9-8-8, the new three-digit code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

We have expanded mental health programming in our schools so that more than double the
number of students are now being served. We’re opening up new youth psychiatric beds so more kids can get the intensive treatment they need.

But there’s more to do. And we need to do it together. My budget expands Mental Health
Intervention Teams in our schools to have an even greater reach. It also provides funding for
adult psychiatric services in the Wichita area, and funding to address the shortage of mental
health workers across the state.

We also need to pass legislation to guarantee mental health care for our first responders. Right
now, our police officers, our firefighters, our EMTs and paramedics are not eligible for workers
compensation for PTSD—even if they experienced the traumatic event on the job. . . .

In 2021, Kansas saw the nation’s second-highest increase in drug overdose deaths, a spike driven by fentanyl. Opioids like fentanyl have rightly caused a lot of concern across the state. I’ve heard from local officials who are seeing the toll of this epidemic right in their own backyards.

I have made historic investments to give law enforcement the resources to crack down on the criminals who are pushing illegal drugs on our children, and I will continue to do so.

But as we work to stop the supply of drugs, we should also be focused on decreasing demand.

Drug addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. Which means we need to change the way we treat it.

My budget gives schools the funding they need to have naloxone on hand—so that should a student overdose, first responders will have enough time to get to the scene to save a life on the spot.

But we also need to decriminalize fentanyl test strips. We’ve debated this before. The reality is test strips save lives and money. Let’s get a bill passed this session that decriminalizes these strips and prevents exposure to fentanyl in the first place—long before it kills more Kansans.”


Andy Beshear (D)
Juvenile Justice, Reentry/Employment, Substance/Opioid Use, Violent Crime

“We are called to forgive. To provide second chances. So, in November, I joined the Justice
Cabinet and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to announce new programs aimed at transitioning people from incarceration to employment. Folks, this is a win-win. We fill jobs with willing employers and make our communities safer, because an employed Kentuckian is far less likely to reoffend.

Second chances are also needed for Kentuckians fighting addiction. From launching a program to help employers guide their workers to addiction services when in need, to establishing Recovery Ready Communities, we’re creating pathways to help more people struggling with addiction. . . .

Keeping our families safe also requires us to face new realities, that far too many violent crimes are being committed by juveniles.

So, we are expanding early intervention services, with a goal of providing educational
opportunities, mental health counseling, addiction treatment and wrap-around services before a juvenile commits a serious crime.

But the reality is, we are currently housing the most violent population of juveniles in recent
memory in our juvenile justice facilities.

Our juvenile justice system was put into place 20 years ago and it was not designed to handle
these violent offenders. This has put our workers as well as the young people housed in these
facilities in danger.

Because of this, we are currently implementing significant reforms.

First, we are putting in place higher-security facilities for those charged with the most serious
crimes. This will allow us to keep both our workers and other youth safer. And it will allow
lower-level offenders to access more services without disruption.

Second, we opened our first female-only Juvenile Detention Center to better protect female

And third, we will be asking the General Assembly for help in the form of higher salaries,
upgrades to our facilities and for necessary changes to state law.”


Wes Moore (D)
Corrections, Law Enforcement, Violent Crime

“During eight years of rising violent crime, law enforcement stepped into the gap to keep our communities safe.

But we have also seen unacceptable rates of incarceration for young Black men, and neighborhoods fearful of both the criminals, and the forces sworn to protect them. . . .

We can increase salaries to recruit and retain corrections and parole officers. It is why our budget calls for more than $30 million to get our state more staff and resident advisors for juveniles. These workers help people ensure those re-entering society are successful, and give back to it. This will not only make us safer; it will make us stronger.”


Gretchen Whitmer (D)
Law Enforcement, Public Safety, Violent Crime

“Since I’ve been governor, we’ve invested $1 billion in public safety. Let’s continue funding law enforcement with better training, oversight, and access to mental health resources. Police officers, state troopers, and prosecutors have tough, dangerous jobs, and if we work together, we get them what they need to keep our communities safe.

Right now, there is a flood of illegal guns on our streets. There’s been a rise of break-ins at gun dealerships and straw purchases, where one person illegally buys a firearm for another. Firearms are getting more dangerous too, thanks to 3D printed technology called Glock switches that turn semi-automatic weapons fully automatic.

That’s why we launched Operation Safe Neighborhoods, taking hundreds of illegal firearms off the street before they could be used in the commission of a crime. But we must do more so the world our kids inherit is not more violent than the one we inhabit now. . . .”


Tate Reeves (R)
Law Enforcement, Violent Crime

“Last year, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety conducted two major surges of law enforcement personnel—one in Jackson and one along our Gulf Coast. We flexed law enforcement in the areas and helped to shut down criminal elements in the regions. And while those surges proved to be successful, we still have more work to do.

That’s why this session, I’m calling on the legislature to make further investment into our Capitol Police by giving them the 150 officers and equipment they need to continue fulfilling their mission and continue pushing back on lawlessness in Jackson.

And let me say this as well, my administration will go after all crime within our jurisdiction. Regardless of the crime committed, regardless of who did it, regardless if it happened on the street or in an office building, my administration is and will continue to hold criminals accountable.”


Mike Parson (R)
Law Enforcement, Public Safety

“[T]his year we are proposing $50 million for school safety grants to further protect our children and our schools.

We know that public safety starts with supporting our men and women on the front lines who answer the call . . . who wake up every day to protect and serve.

BUT we know that law enforcement recruitment has suffered in recent years . . AND it is critical that we take action to build the bench in law enforcement.

Last year, we established the Missouri Blue Scholarship program to recruit officers across the state.

Already this program has received high interest and success, with 147 Missourians already earning a scholarship.”


Greg Gianforte (R)
Behavioral Health, Corrections, Law Enforcement, Substance/Opioid Use

“To hold criminals accountable, we propose to invest $200 million to repair and expand capacity at the state prison in Deer Lodge . . .

Working with the attorney general, we also propose investing in law enforcement. Our budget funds 16 new highway patrol troopers and criminal investigators. We also propose funding six new prosecutors at the Montana Department of Justice …

Instead of turning our backs on those struggling with addiction, we’re investing in hope and opportunity as they get clean, sober, and healthy.

We also have an obligation to take care of the most vulnerable among us. After decades of previous administrations applying Band-Aids and kicking the can down the road, we propose a generational investment in our behavioral health care facilities. With it, we’ll repair the state hospital in Warm Springs. We’ll improve patient services. And we’ll better secure the safety of patients and providers. We’ll also support expanded community-based behavioral health clinics. Friends, the time for kicking the can down the road is over.”


Jim Pillen (R)
Corrections, Law Enforcement

“Today, I am proposing significant law enforcement investments to the Legislature. The first is an $18.6 million increase in funding for our treasured Nebraska State Patrol, to ensure we can continue to recruit and retain the very best to serve and keep us safe. Second, I am recommending finalizing the last phase of funding to replace the Nebraska State Penitentiary, which this body has approved. The facility was designed more than a century ago. At the time, the mission was different. Today, it can’t sufficiently meet the security needs of the future. It can’t meet the programming needs of our inmates to reduce recidivism and get people back to work after they pay their dues to society for their transgressions. A new facility, with additional space for programming, will help more people to become productive, law-abiding citizens.”


Joe Lombardo (R)
Mental Health, Public Safety

“I will be introducing legislation that makes it harder—not easier—to commit a crime in the state of Nevada.

My bill will include:

  • Holding career criminals accountable by strengthening the habitual enhancement for those offenders who repeatedly victimize the community;  
  • Strengthening the definition of domestic battery by strangulation;  
  • Protecting businesses by lowering the felony theft threshold;  
  • Empowering judges and probation officers to impose tougher sanctions for parole violations;  
  • Disallowing diversion for crimes against children and the elderly;  
  • Strengthening drug laws by reducing weights for possession and trafficking, while increasing penalties;  
  • Fighting the fentanyl epidemic. . . . Fentanyl possession in any amount should be a category B felony. 

Addressing these problem areas will have an immediate effect on reducing crime and helps ensure the effectiveness of our public safety and criminal justice systems. . . . 

We all know too well that crime is often the result of poor decisions and circumstances. 

Incarceration should be the last resort. 

However, jails and prisons are all too often places where we house those we have failed to educate, failed to treat, or otherwise failed to get them the help they need. 

We are seeing the effect of this on our streets in the form of increased homelessness; we are seeing it in our schools, where young people without access to treatment are acting out; and we are seeing it our economy, where the safety of employees and customers is paramount. 

I will make sure government does its part by increasing reimbursement rates in areas of acute need, especially in mental health services. 

My budget includes an enhancement in Medicaid, to expand community behavioral health centers. This $17 million dollar expansion will add up to six clinics across the state in underserved areas including northern and rural Nevada. Ensuring more mental health services are available to anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay. 

The need for forensic mental health services is also critical. It’s an area that has been neglected. 

My budget includes funding to convert a portion of the City of Las Vegas jail into a forensic hospital, to build out a pod at the Rawson-Neal Hospital for forensic services, and money for a brand-new ground up forensic hospital in southern Nevada. 

These facilities are critical for both our legal and mental health infrastructure, and I look forward to working with the legislature to fund these projects.” 

New Jersey

Phil Murphy (D)
Crisis Response, Law Enforcement, Nonviolent Crime, Substance/Opioid Use, Violent Crime

“Because of New Jersey’s strong gun safety laws, in 2022, we saw shootings go down 26 percent and gun homicides go down 17 percent.

But many of our communities are also living amidst another persistent wave of car thefts.

Over the past year, our administration has focused clearly on this problem. . . .

These steps are already helping to bring down the numbers of car thefts. From September through December, car thefts were down 13 percent from the same four months of 2021. . . .

Last year I proudly signed into law a comprehensive police licensing framework, ensuring that law enforcement officers . . . are both recognized as the highly trained and skilled professionals that they are, and are held to high and uniform standards.

And we saw the continued expansion of our transformative ARRIVE Together program, which pairs law enforcement officers with mental health screeners to respond to individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis. . . .

From 2018 through 2021, opioid deaths had remained relatively constant after huge increases throughout the previous five years. More than 3,000 New Jerseyans were lost to the opioid epidemic in three of those four years.

But, at last, we have a glimmer of hope. The preliminary numbers for 2022 show 231 fewer drug-related deaths than in 2021—giving us our lowest statewide total since 2017. . . .

Late last month, the Department of Human Services received approval to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to allow any pharmacy to provide anonymous and free access to Naloxone to any individual, at any time. . . .

[T]his nation-leading policy will ensure that a crucial and lifesaving tool is put in the hands of more people, free and anonymously, so we can save more precious lives and allow individuals struggling with addiction to seek treatment.”

New Mexico

Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)
Housing, Law Enforcement, Nonviolent Crime, Violent Crime

“I am proud of the strides we have made in partnership with law enforcement over the last four years; we have supported law enforcement from Day One to get 1,000 additional officers into New Mexico communities and make our state a safer place to live. Those efforts are bearing fruit, and I am proud to say that the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy trained more than 400 officers last year—the most in recent memory. We are also preparing to train the largest class of cadets in history—a 44% increase over the previous class. This is what it looks like when we provide law enforcement with the tools they need to get the job done. . . .

We will not relent from our commitment to establish a “rebuttable presumption” to make sure that high-risk violent offenders stay behind bars before trial. We’ll tackle organized crime and the criminals who fund it through retail and commercial theft, smashing the syndicates that are terrorizing our business community. And we will continue to expand our police force to make sure our law enforcement has the personnel, training and tools to serve our neighborhoods effectively, and I am calling for an additional $100 million investment in the Law Enforcement Recruitment Fund to continue supporting the hiring and training of 1,000 law enforcement officers across the state. . . .

I am requesting over $100 million for housing programs, including mobile homelessness response teams that serve unhoused residents; eviction protection that keeps families in place; down payment assistance that helps people start a new chapter and begin to build equity; and investments in the Mortgage Finance Authority, which are matched exponentially by federal funding. We need thousands more homes—so let’s build them.”

New York

Kathy Hochul (D)
Bail, Housing, Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use, Violent Crime

“[W]e developed new strategies and invested in new programs. Strengthening our gun violence prevention laws by passing even stronger ones and closing loopholes. Banning ghost guns and expanding bail eligibility for gun crimes. Tougher prosecutions of gun trafficking. Mandating the use of Red Flag law leading to more than 5,000 cases where we kept guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them and kept innocent people from being hurt.

Raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase semi-automatic weapons. Launching a first-in-the-nation 9 state task force on illegal guns which took more than 10,000 illegal guns off our streets this past year. And tripling our investments in gun violence interruption programs. . . .

Last year, we saw a double-digit decrease in both homicides and shootings. But we’re still far from pre-pandemic crime levels—and our work is still far from done. . . .

Of course, we know changing our bail laws will not automatically bring down crime rates. Also, record investments we are making in education, housing and mental health, all go toward stabilizing communities and addressing historic inequalities. Those investments must continue.

I’m also proposing the largest investment ever in the State’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative, known as GIVE, which saves lives in the communities that are hardest hit by gun violence. To put it simply—we’re investing in what we know works. . . .

I’m proud to announce we will be investing more than $1 billion and making critical policy changes to finally and fully meet the mental health needs of our state.

Right now, nearly 3,200 New Yorkers struggling with severe mental illness or addiction are living on the street and subways.

At the same time, we have insufficient levels of inpatient psychiatric beds and outpatient services.

We will add 1,000 inpatient psychiatric beds, funding 150 new beds in State facilities and bringing 850 psych beds in hospitals back online. This is more than half of the beds we have lost since 2014 and they will serve more than 10,000 New Yorkers each year. These actions are overdue. . . .

We’ll also invest in services that allow patients to begin re-integrating in a way that is safe for them and for the community so our inpatient beds don’t get backed up, because more appropriate out-patient treatment options are unavailable.

We know that supportive housing is a tool for both prevention and recovery. That’s why my plan includes building more than 3,500 residential units, supported by intensive mental health services. . . .

[W]e will do more, working with federal and local partners, to stop the flow of illicit drugs into our communities and address new deadly additives like xylazine. We’ll send resources to localities that are working to shut down fentanyl suppliers.”

North Dakota

Doug Burgum (R)
Law Enforcement, Substance/Opioid Use

“Through the First Lady’s courageous leadership in openly sharing her own story of her long battle with the disease of addiction, and of her nearly 21 years of recovery, she has inspired thousands of others still trapped in the disease of addiction, and their loved ones, that the dream and hope of recovery exists for all that act. Since 2017, with passion and dedication she has focused the mission of Recovery Reinvented around ending the shame and stigma that surrounds this chronic brain disease—thus removing the social barriers that prevent people from reaching out for help and accessing vital treatment and recovery resources. . . .

Critical to supporting individuals with the disease of addiction are peer support specialists, who use their lived experience to assist others on their journey to recovery and wellness. There are currently 819 trained peer support specialists across the state. . . .

Keeping our communities safe should also be a priority, and we know our law enforcement agencies are working at every level to do just that. We can show our support for them—and that North Dakota truly does “back the blue”—by providing a $5 million fund for matching grants that law enforcement agencies can use to drive workforce recruitment and retention strategies and provide much-needed equipment to protect those officers who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us all. . . .”


Mike DeWine (R)
Behavioral Health, Crisis Response, Law Enforcement, Violent Crime 

“The budget I am releasing later today is centered on: 

  1. Building a community care system that increases prevention efforts; 
  2. Offering better crisis response services and treatment options; 
  3. Growing our behavioral health workforce; and 
  4. Focusing on much-needed research and innovation. 

In this budget, you will see growing investments to expand what’s working—to all 88 counties, including: 

Treatment and counseling services delivered either in person or through telehealth visits to people directly in their homes and workplaces. 

Suicide prevention to end the needless loss of our brothers and sisters. 

Support for our youngest Ohioans, so they can have a great start to life and get help at the earliest sign of a behavioral health need. 

Expansion of the crisis care system and the new 9-8-8 hotline so fewer Ohioans land in the emergency room.  

And, increased access to state hospitals and private psychiatric hospitals to ease stress on families, emergency departments, courts, and jails. . . . 

In addition to more resources for body cameras, my budget will include $40 million per year for continuous training for Ohio law enforcement officers on topics ranging from de-escalation to use-of-force to crisis intervention for someone with a mental illness. . . .  

Through your support of our Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, we are helping communities better fight and prevent crime. For example, in Westlake, the Police Department came to us because of a significant spike in domestic violence, aggravated assault, and gun crimes. With our grant funding, they purchased technology that helps predict where crime will occur. As a result, Westlake has reduced their gun-related crimes by 77 percent! 


Kevin Stitt (R)
Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Public Safety 

“Protecting Oklahomans means engaging in smart and meaningful criminal justice reform. 

Oklahomans elected me to protect public safety. 

Over the last four years, we’ve closed four prisons, safely reduced the number of inmates by over 5,000, reduced crime, and saved the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Today, Oklahoma is leading the nation in helping those with non-violent records return to work and get second chances. 

It’s why we also lead the nation in the lowest recidivism rate. . . . 

Now is the time to transform and modernize our state law enforcement system into the nation’s best.  

To do this, we need to tackle four critical areas: the recruitment, retention, health and training of our troopers, agents and investigators.  

First, we must protect our officers. 

Mental health does not discriminate. Depression and suicide do not discriminate. It’s long overdue, but this year we must prioritize the health of our officers and create the Oklahoma First Responders Wellness Division. Its foundation is a peer to peer system designed to recognize the early signs of trauma and give immediate help to officers who need it. . . . 

In the same way we can attract and support teachers, we need to provide law enforcement officers competitive pay, the best training available, and more career options.  

I’m requesting that we pool our resources and build a joint statewide training facility. . . . 

Our state’s law enforcement also desperately needs a consolidated, unified command structure within a single department.”  

Rhode Island

Dan McKee (D)

“I am committed to building a capable Department of Housing that is up to the challenge and opportunity that this moment represents. My budget will create a robust state agency, with additional funding to help our unsheltered population and set them on a pathway to housing.” 

South Carolina

Henry McMaster (R)
Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Violent Crime 

“Placing an armed, certified school resource officer—SRO—in every school, in every county, all day, every day, has been one of my top priorities. At my request, the General Assembly began funding a grant program administered by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to provide school districts with funds to hire more resource officers for our 1,283 public schools.  

The grant program has been very successful and has more than doubled the number of officers assigned to a school, going from 406 to 982 in just four years. This year I am recommending an additional $27.3 million to provide an additional 188 schools with an SRO. With this appropriation, 90 percent of South Carolina’s public schools will have an SRO assigned to their campus. . . . 

To train our state’s SROs, I recommend providing the State Law Enforcement Division with $3.5 million to create the Center for School Safety and Targeted Violence. Located at the old Gilbert Elementary School, this partnership with Lexington School District One will provide a state-of-the-art training center in a real life setting for law enforcement and school personnel. . . . 

To meet the growing demand for mental and behavioral health services, I am recommending an allocation of nearly $45 million to the Department of Mental Health. These funds will support the agency’s ability to recruit and retain mental health professionals, provide inpatient services, increase access to crisis services such as suicide prevention hotlines—including one specifically for veterans—and community-based treatment services. . . . 

[O]ur state law enforcement and criminal justice agencies have begun to stem the tide of personnel loss with $40 million in recruitment and retention pay raises provided in last year’s General Appropriations Act. 

I am proposing that we continue to build on this momentum, by providing an additional $21.5 million for recruitment and retention pay raises this year with the understanding that we will continue doing it. . . . 

Law enforcement needs our help. They need stronger laws to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals and juveniles, and new laws to “close the revolving door” and keep career criminals behind bars and not out on bond. 

That means no bond for repeat criminals. Those who commit a crime while out on bond will receive an automatic mandatory five-year felony sentence with no early release or parole—on top of the sentence for their previous crimes. 

Currently, there are no graduated criminal penalties for illegal gun possession in state law. That means the penalty is the same no matter how many times the criminal gets caught, which provides no deterrent. Graduated felony penalties, with no bond, will help keep repeat criminals behind bars and not out on bail where they can commit more crimes.”

South Dakota

Kristi Noem (R)
Law Enforcement 

We are committed to securing our state, and we are committed to honoring the men and women in uniform who make that possible. South Dakota respects law enforcement. We’ve proven that in our actions—not just in our words. We recruited out-of-state law enforcement officers to move to a state where they are respected.” 


Bill Lee (R)
Law Enforcement 

“Our $100 million Violent Crime Intervention Grant Fund is already being used by 80% of local law enforcement agencies across the state. I propose that we invest another $50 million to keep that program going. 

We added 100 Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers in the budget last year. This year, again, we’re adding 100 more troopers. 

Ahead of this budget, we worked with the General Assembly to create 25 new forensic lab positions to help the TBI reduce the turnaround time for test kits.  

And we’re investing in District Attorneys, with additional funding for staff and a statewide system upgrade, so they can take dangerous criminals to trial and ensure that justice is served.”   


Greg Abbott (R)
Bail, Nonviolent Crime, Public Safety, Substance/Opioid Use 

“We did a lot last session with Senator Huffman and Representatives Murr and Smith to impose tougher bail, but this session we must shut and lock that revolving door by passing laws that keep dangerous criminals behind bars and hold accountable the judges who let them out.

To get that done, I am making ending revolving door bail an emergency item this session.

Another public safety issue is gun crime. Some want more gun laws, but too many local officials won’t even enforce the gun laws that are already on the books. Most gun crimes are committed by criminals who possess guns illegally. We need to leave prosecutors and judges with no choice but to punish those criminals and remove them and their guns from our streets.

I want a mandatory minimum sentence for criminals who illegally possess guns of 10 years behind bars. . . . 

To end cartel killings of Texans, we must do two things: call fentanyl deaths what they are—poisonings—and prosecute them as murders. We must also increase the supply of lifesaving NARCAN, so we can save more Texans who are ambushed by fentanyl.” 


Spencer Cox (R)
Crisis Response, Mental Health 

“We can fund more mental health resources and crisis interventions in our communities.” 


Phil Scott (R)
Public Safety, Substance/Opioid Use 

“Vermont set the standard for treating the opioid epidemic as a public health crisis. And now, we’re building on it with lessons learned from our nation-leading pandemic response to address overdoses, suicides, homelessness, crime rates and more. 

This approach means agencies and departments are working as one team, shoulder to shoulder with local leaders, federal partners, and community organizations. And using real-time data to focus on the people and neighborhoods that need our attention most. 

We are prioritizing prevention, giving kids a healthier start through home visiting and partnering with pediatricians, so we can identify risks earlier and prevent problems down the road. And we’re doing more with our mobile mental health response when those problems do arise. 

Together, we made the state’s largest-ever investment in substance abuse prevention, which is being deployed as we speak. It’s helping community partners give students meaningful things to do—like afterschool programs, clubs, sports and jobs—where they build healthy relationships, explore opportunities and feel valued. 

They are also critical to our treatment and recovery efforts, connecting people to services, sharing life-saving resources, and supporting families who desperately need our help. 

These are proven initiatives, which is why I’ll propose we build on them and do more to prevent the destruction these deadly drugs are causing in too many towns, too many cities, and in too many of our homes. . . . 

And while we focus on root causes, law enforcement and accountability must also be part of this discussion. And I believe it has to include a sincere look at well-intentioned reforms that are having unintended consequences. 

Whether that’s expunging records that could lead to a violent offender getting a gun; policy that has made youth the target of drug traffickers; or divisive rhetoric that makes it difficult to retain and recruit good public servants. 

With a more unified approach to health and safety on the ground, we can divert more people off the path to drugs and crime, and solidify our position as the safest, healthiest state to live and raise a family.” 


Glenn Youngkin (R)
Behavioral Health, Crisis Response, Law Enforcement, Substance/Opioid Use, Violent Crime 

“Because of soft on crime policies from previous administrations, the record murder rates of 2020 persist across the commonwealth, virtually every law enforcement agency has 20% or greater staffing vacancies, and the heartbreaking news reports continue. 

The extensive work of our Violent Crime Task Force, working with city leaders in our toughest cities, heard clearly—we need more police on the street, more prosecutors to put criminals behind bars, tougher penalties for those who commit crimes with guns and more support for witnesses and community prevention.   

Operation Bold Blue Line focuses precisely on those areas, especially more police on the street, more of the quiet heroes who put on a bulletproof vest every day to go to work.  

We must recruit 2,000 more badges by focusing on high school programs, college programs, retiring military personnel, and attracting law enforcement officers from out-of-state. . . . 

Virginia, like the country, is experiencing a behavioral health crisis. And our behavioral health system is overwhelmed, grappling with a level of mental health and substance use issues never seen before—all too often resulting in violence, suicide and murder. 

Last month, I stood at Henrico Doctors Hospital to announce a three-year plan to fundamentally transform our behavioral health system. The “Right Help, Right Now” plan is comprehensive— and I ask this General Assembly to fully fund the $230 million bold first step of this plan.  

This funding rapidly accelerates the transformation toward a strong and stable behavioral health safety net. It’s part of a bold approach that will substantially expand system capacity— same day care, relieving the burden on law enforcement, greater pre-crisis service capacity in schools, a focus on substance use disorder, a stronger behavioral health workforce, and service innovations. 

The plan includes $20 million to fully fund the necessary number of mobile crisis units across the Commonwealth, so we can ensure that every Virginian can get the right help, when they need it. 

We’re also asking for $58 million to increase the number of Crisis Receiving Centers. This includes fully funding the number of necessary centers in Southwest Virginia and Hampton Roads—regions that have been too often left behind. And $20 million to contract with hospitals to increase psychiatric emergency services.  

And of course, to support this expanded capacity, we need to make our behavioral health workforce a priority. We are investing in the ways we recruit, train, license and retain behavioral healthcare professionals like psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and the valued care and support professionals who work alongside them every day. 

On top of this, a key part of the “Right Help, Right Now” plan is ensuring targeted support for Virginians suffering with a substance use disorder.” 


Jay Inslee (D)
Behavioral Health, Crisis Response, Housing, Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use, Violent Crime 

“Until we fix our housing crisis, thousands of people will remain homeless. 

Today, we’re short 81,000 housing units and worsening by the thousands every year. . . . 

What is working are efforts such as the rapid acquisition program we launched two years ago. That program is allowing us now to create thousands of new supportive housing units at a pace that was never possible before. This is a pace we must sustain. . . . 

This is why I’m proposing a $4 billion referendum that will significantly speed up the construction of thousands of new units that will include shelters, supportive housing and affordable housing. 

This will be combined with additional behavioral health support, substance use treatment, employment services and more. . . . 

Since [2018], we’ve been building a new, community-based system that helps people get the specific type of care they need closer to their homes and loved ones. 

Community-based care is what works. 

We’ve made thousands of new beds available to patients across Washington for care that ranges from crisis stabilization to substance use disorder. 

We’re still building, and my budgets contain funding to keep every part of our plan on track, including the new 350-bed forensic hospital at Western State. . . . 

We’re seeing an unprecedented increase in demand for competency evaluation and restoration services—a 60% increase in court orders since 2018, and a 145% increase in inpatient referrals since 2013. 

This is not sustainable. 

The state has been and will continue doing its part to shore up capacity. We’ve added hundreds of forensic beds since the Trueblood trial in 2015, and we plan to add hundreds more. . . . 

We should be prioritizing diversion and community-based treatment options rather than using the criminal justice system as an avenue to mental health care, particularly because competency services only treat people to be well enough for prosecution. . . . 

One thing we know is that gun violence is a significant driver of increased crime. This isn’t a surprise considering the gun lobby has worked for decades against commonsense gun safety measures. 

Fortunately, in Washington state, voters and legislators have been willing to take on the gun lobby. We’ve enacted several measures to strengthen background checks and limits on the kinds of weaponry used in mass shootings. . . . 

Of course, gun safety laws are not the only thing we need. We want to help local law enforcement agencies hire and train more officers. 

Last summer, Sen. John Lovick and I were joined by dozens of chiefs and sheriffs to propose new regional training centers. These new facilities will allow us to train hundreds more recruits, and help law enforcement agencies recruit people from within their diverse communities. 

Sometimes, though, the right response isn’t from law enforcement. I applaud the incredible work underway to implement our new 9-8-8 system. 

Unlike most states, this Legislature had the foresight to see this as much more than a crisis hotline. We’re using this opportunity to create a true behavioral health crisis response system.” 

West Virginia

Jim Justice (R)
Corrections, Substance/Opioid Use 

“Let me jump to something that you know I’ve talked about before and it’s drugs.

We all know. It can cannibalize us. We have made a lot of inroads. But we absolutely know we still have lots to do. I can’t say this anymore bluntly, because I don’t know how to say it. . . . 

We should absolutely continue to support and help and to try to help in every way our programs like Jobs and Hope or whatever it may be. That we should absolutely know we’ve got to all be in this. . . . 

In regard to corrections, you know, we have many, many vacancies.

You know, last the last go round you came really close on locality pay.

Some of our bordering counties we have a 70% vacancy.

You got to address that. Please address the locality pay. Because we have absolutely, we have an obligation to take care of our prisoners. And we’re going to awaken to something not very good there if we don’t watch out.” 


Tony Evers (D)
Behavioral Health, Juvenile Justice, Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use  

“Kids in crisis are often distracted or disengaged in class, might not be able to finish their homework, and won’t be able to focus on their studies at home or at school. Improving student mental health can also improve student learning outcomes and school attendance, while reducing bullying, risky behaviors, violence, involvement in the juvenile justice system, and substance misuse. 

So, over the last year, we doubled our investment in our “Get Kids Ahead” initiative—investing $30 million of our federal pandemic relief funds to provide every Wisconsin public school district with new resources to expand school-based mental health services. Tonight, I’m announcing we’re going to make “Get Kids Ahead” a permanent state program, and we’re investing more than $270 million to ensure every student has access to mental health services. 

The last few years have affected our kids’ mental and behavioral health—and adults’ mental health, too. We’ve seen record-high opioid-related overdose deaths, and Wisconsin’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline received 6,000 calls just in the first month of its launch this past July…

Together with our “Get Kids Ahead” initiative investment, we’ll be making an overall investment of about $500 million to expand access to mental and behavioral health services for folks across our state. . . .

[W]e’re also going to invest in making sure we have adequate, available mental health professionals who can provide the treatment Wisconsinites need across our state.

We’re going to invest in developing robust prevention strategies to reduce suicide, self-harm, and other mental and behavioral health-related injuries. And that includes state resources to support 988, the new Suicide & Crisis Lifeline . . . as well as increased support for peer-run and community-based services across the state. . . . 

Last fall, I announced a plan to invest over $100 million to help local governments fund essential services in communities across our state. And that includes a new $10 million program to help specifically fund public safety services like EMS, police, and fire. . . .

I’m announcing tonight that I want to work together on a budget provision that will send a total of up to 20 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue back to our local communities for shared revenue. . . . And it means more than half a billion dollars more per year in new resources to invest in key priorities like EMS, fire, and law enforcement services, transportation, local health and human services, and other challenges facing our communities.”  


Mark Gordon (R)
Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use 

“Depression, substance abuse, isolation, and suicidal thoughts are all too prevalent across Wyoming demographics.  

We are losing too many of our youth, too many of our veterans, and too many of our neighbors. It is so important that I co-hosted a summit on Mental Health last fall in Casper. It saw all three governmental branches coming together to work on improving our services for mental health.  

Our coordination of efforts and targeting of crucial resources is just the beginning of what we can do. I am happy to report, though, that Wyoming launched her first in-state 24/7 9-8-8 suicide hotline. Now our people in crisis finally have someone they can talk to who is familiar with our state and eager to help.” 

About the authors

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Director of Governmental Affairs, Finance, Operations, and Administration
Jamal Nelson cultivates and maintains relationships with members of Congress and the administration and acts as a liaison to various coalitions and groups to effectively implement the legislative priorities of the CSG Justice Center. Before joining the CSG Justice Center
in 2009, Jamal served as deputy director of intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he worked on international trade issues. Jamal received his BS in political science from Southern Connecticut State University.
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  • Leslie Griffin
    Director of Content Strategy, Communications and External Affairs
    Leslie Griffin leads the strategic creation, delivery, and governance of CSG Justice Center content. She oversees the types of content produced, the structure of that content, and the standards and guidelines needed to ensure quality and assess performance. Prior to
    joining the CSG Justice Center, Leslie had an 18-year career in educational publishing overseeing the development of literature textbooks for grades 6–12. Leslie received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College with a concentration in English and creative writing.
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