Criminal Justice Guide to 2024 State of the State Speeches

March 19, 2024

In this year’s State of the State addresses, numerous governors focused on the scourge of fentanyl and substance/opioid use more generally, as well as mental health issues. Many called for harsher punishments for fentanyl-related crimes and for increasing behavioral health treatment resources.

Investing in law enforcement and reducing violent crime—particularly through more stringent gun laws—were also top priorities. As in 2023, a number of governors also highlighted the success of various crisis response efforts—including the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline—and the need to address homelessness and housing shortages.

Justice Issues Covered by Governors in Their State of the State Remarks (as of March 14, 2024)


Mental Health 19 mentions 
Substance/Opioid Use  19
Law Enforcement 16 
Violent Crime 13 
Behavioral Health  8 
Public Safety 8
Crisis Response 7 
Housing/Homelessness  7 
Corrections 5 
Nonviolent Crime  2 
Juvenile Justice  2 
Reentry/Employment 2 
Victims  2 


Click on each state below to see excerpts pertaining to criminal justice from the governors’ 2024 State of the State speeches. 


Kay Ivey (R)

“The Alabama Department of Corrections certainly remains a key focus of our state’s public safety efforts. . . . Prisons around the country and on every level—federal, state and local—are experiencing challenges. But we remain committed to doing everything in our power to make improvements where we can in our state system. We are moving forward in our mission to build two new facilities. At the same time, we are working to stop contraband coming into our existing facilities, and we are doubling down on our staff recruitment efforts and seeing record graduating classes of officers because of it. Alabama proudly backs the blue, including our corrections officers . . . .”


Mike Dunleavy (R)
Law Enforcement, Public Safety

“Public safety is the Number One responsibility for any government, and one of the main reasons I ran for office was because Alaska was on the wrong track. We immediately began by reversing years of cuts to State Troopers and Village Public Safety Officers.

We repealed the disastrous policies under SB 91 that contributed to a record-breaking crime wave. These policy reforms and historic investments are now paying off. Our overall crime rate has declined in every year of this administration to some of the lowest levels in 40 years.

Our VPSO budget is up by 81 percent. We have 88 funded positions compared to 55 in 2018. My proposed budget funds another 10 VPSOs plus salary increases. It also adds funding for four investigators in our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Unit.

We’ve cleared the unacceptable sexual assault kit backlog. We’ve been collecting DNA that’s been owed in some cases since the 1990s. These efforts are helping us crack cold cases and bring long overdue justice for victims. We know we still have work to do. Progress is not permanent, and we can’t let our guard down. My proposed budget also includes funding for three new investigators with the Troopers, focused on crimes against children.”


Katie Hobbs (D)
Law Enforcement, Substance/Opioid Use

“I launched Operation SECURE, creating a Border Coordination Office within the Arizona Department of Homeland Security. This session, I’m seeking ongoing funding to better coordinate our border response and continue fighting this humanitarian, economic, and enforcement crisis.

This new funding will expand the Operation with critical investments in border security, as well as resources to intercept the flow of fentanyl. . . . These investments will strengthen law enforcement efforts, raise awareness through an education campaign, and expand harm reduction and treatment services, particularly in rural areas.

Together, let us continue to find real solutions, support law enforcement, first responders, and community leaders who are on the front lines of this issue, and push Washington to do its job to secure our border.”


Jared Polis (D)
Behavioral Health, Law Enforcement, Nonviolent Crime, Public Safety, Victims, Violent Crime

“Over the last few years, we’ve made important investments in effective, locally driven efforts, including training and support for local law enforcement.

This has resulted in scholarships for 135 recruits to attend the POST Academy, 194 law enforcement recruitment events across the state, more than 900 training sessions and more than 400 community events.

Through legislation led by Senator Buckner, former Senator Cooke, Senator Will and Representative Valdez, we funded more than 50 initiatives throughout the state that use evidence-based strategies to make our communities safer including crime prevention and violence interrupter efforts, law enforcement community outreach, crisis intervention, mentoring, co-response models, and recovery housing.

Early data shows a downward trend in violent crime, which is why this year we want to continue these investments to create safer communities for everyone. . . .

[W]e invested in technology to locate and return stolen vehicles, and we strengthened the dedicated auto-theft task force. We provided more support for District Attorneys to successfully prosecute the criminals responsible, and we took action to make criminal penalties for auto theft tougher by eliminating the value of a vehicle from consideration.

We’re starting to move in the right direction! As of September last year, Colorado had seen a 21% year-over-year reduction in stolen vehicles, in Denver a 27% reduction—including a major reduction of auto theft at Denver International Airport. . . .

We are also actively involved in helping victims of crime get back on their feet, providing additional funding to help people get the support and resources they need to recover and heal. I have also called on our Congressional delegation to increase federal funding for victims through a fix to the Victims of Crime Act. . . .

In keeping with our commitment to public safety, Colorado is leading the nation in our efforts to prevent gun violence. Whether it’s strengthening our red flag law, establishing waiting periods, requiring safe storage of firearms in homes where kids are present, or banning ghost guns, we are a model for the nation in practical, commonsense solutions to the problem of gun violence, while protecting our cherished Second Amendment rights. . . .

To build on this work, we are proposing additional investments to prevent convicted felons from illegally purchasing firearms. . . .

We also need greater access to behavioral health care, and to build on the success of I Matter, championed by Senator Michaelson Jenet, our budget calls for more support for behavioral health and autism care for youth, expanded care for youth facing acute behavioral health challenges, investment in mental health support for our rural and agricultural communities, and those involved in the criminal justice system.”


Ned Lamont (D)
Housing/Homelessness, Mental Health, Reentry/Employment, Substance/Opioid Use

“[W]e have too many people who cannot find a place to live—it is not available, or it is not affordable. Our biennial budget doubles our investment in housing—workforce housing, affordable housing, supportive housing, elder housing, and downtown apartments. . . .

Housing is more than a roof over your head. Thanks to your extra $350 million commitment to mental health, we are providing addiction and mental health services in supportive housing. . . .

Our culture is unleashing more extreme behavior, be it expressions of racism and hate speech, increased domestic abuse and fentanyl overdoses, with a sad surge in mental health calls starting younger and younger. . . .

The DSS Service Centers, where you can get your SNAP benefits or Medicaid renewals, are being transformed into opportunity centers, where one desk over you can be linked into a workforce training program, with the necessary childcare and rent relief supports to make your next job a reality.”


John Carney (D)
Mental Health, Violent Crime

“We’ve reduced crime, and our prison population is down nearly 24 percent. . . .

We have significantly expanded mental health services in our schools. . . .

Working together, I look forward to expanding these services into high schools this year. . . .

Over the past seven years, we’ve banned assault weapons, bump stocks and high -capacity magazines.

We’ve passed red flag laws and prevented straw purchases.

This year, we’ll take another big step forward and pass the permit to purchase law.

Inside the administration, we’ve spent a lot of time on what we call Group Violence Intervention—or GVI.

We started GVI in Wilmington and have expanded the program to Dover.

Here’s the truth: it’s a very small number of people who are committing the vast majority of gun violence in these communities.

They are part of groups that fight with one another.

Through GVI, we are directly engaging with those individuals and the gangs and groups they’re part of.

We’re demanding that they put down their guns.

If they do, we will offer job training and other social services.

For those who choose the path of violence, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And Attorney General Jennings has been doing that.

More than 300 people have participated in GVI since it started.

Just in the last several months, we have started offering GVI services in Laurel—where we saw a spike in lethal shootings.”


Ron DeSantis (R)
Law Enforcement

“Our policies to support law enforcement officers, eliminate riots, keep criminals off the streets, and remove lawless prosecutors from office have kept Florida at a 50-year crime low and have brought new law enforcement recruits to Florida from all 50 states. . . .

My budget proposal for this year includes $20 million to bring even more officers to the Sunshine State.”


Brian Kemp (R)
Crisis Response, Law Enforcement, Mental Health

“Bipartisan majorities of both chambers, the mayor, and myself all agree on the critical need for the completion of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

This facility will provide our law enforcement officers, firefighters and additional first responders the critical tools, knowledge, and skills needed to keep themselves and our communities safe. . . .

[L]ast year, thanks to the work of the General Assembly, I was proud to sign a budget that included a 6,000-dollar pay raise for state law enforcement officers. That pay raise was a recognition of the contributions these brave men and women make as they put their lives on the line, day in and day out. . . .

Within my budget proposal are pay increases of an additional 3,000 dollars for State Patrol officers . . . as well as our correctional officers and other state law enforcement agencies.

These investments will not only serve as a renewal of our commitment to these law enforcement officers, but will also support our ongoing recruitment and retention efforts.

That includes our efforts in mental health.

Two years ago, I was proud to sign into law the Mental Health Parity Act, a fitting capstone to the late Speaker David Ralston’s years of service in this chamber, and one that leaves a lasting legacy.

One of the most visible examples of that legacy was the 9-8-8 crisis hotline campaign, conducted by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities last year.

Thanks to Commissioner Kevin Tanner and his team, more Georgians than ever before are accessing services and the help they need to turn their lives around for the better.

To enhance this program further, my budget proposals call for a total increase of 205 million dollars for DBHDD and other entities that address mental health.

This new funding will enable DBHDD to expand services for those struggling with mental illness, it will increase the number of crisis beds throughout the state, it will further crisis intervention resources in all communities, and improve the quality of mental health services overall.

Once passed, we will be spending 1.6 billion dollars on mental health—more than ever before.

I’m proud of what these and other agencies are doing to help their fellow Georgians and to keep us the best state to live, work, and raise a family.”


Josh Green (D)
Housing/Homelessness, Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use, Violent Crime

“Just over a year ago, we faced the second-highest per capita homeless rate in the country.

A 2023 census of our homeless community found that 6,223 people were without a home.

The state’s rate of homelessness of 43 per 10,000 people is more than double the national rate of 18 per 10,000.

Many in our homeless community struggle with mental illness and addiction—and face an average life expectancy of just 53 years.

We took immediate action to reduce homelessness with real solutions—and have made it our goal to reduce homelessness in our state by 50 percent within four years.

On January 23rd last year, I signed an Emergency Proclamation on Homelessness to cut through the red tape preventing much-needed action—allowing us to begin the construction of up to 20 kauhale villages statewide in the coming years. . . .

We must do more to protect our communities from the threat of violence from those who have no business possessing firearms.

This means incarcerating violent criminals, preventing unstable people from having guns, and finally, providing much more healthcare access to those suffering from mental illness or drug addiction—which is too often linked to such tragedies.”


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

“Protecting our youth and communities from harm is all our responsibility, especially when it comes to the scourge of fentanyl.

In the past year, Idaho began a successful public education campaign that reached people in Idaho 60 million times in a few short months.

And now, teens and young adults are more aware of fentanyl. They’re more concerned about their peers using it than ever before and, importantly, they are talking about it more with their friends.

As we march on, armed with better information about fentanyl, we’ve taken many other steps to reduce the supply and distribution of drugs on our streets.

Much of our fentanyl battle grew out of Operation Esto Perpetua, our crime-fighting crew that has helped us stay laser-focused on strategies to combat this deadly drug. . . .

IDAHO WORKS also proposes a new Statewide Student Behavioral Health Initiative for additional suicide prevention.

We know prevention measures work.

Here’s an example from juvenile corrections—the progress we’ve made in standing up youth crisis centers and safe teen assessment centers around the state has contributed to a reassuring trend. Over the last five years, even with a growing population, the number of juveniles in state custody has dropped by half.

This goes to show that when we invest in prevention and intervention efforts to support every kid’s success, we improve lives.”


J. B. Pritzker (D)
Housing/Homelessness, Mental Health

“In 2021, I signed an executive order that launched Home Illinois, a whole of government approach to prevent and end homelessness. And last year, we put this plan into action—investing $200 million into prevention, crisis response, housing units, and staffing, to ensure that every person has a fighting chance. In a matter of months, Home Illinois sustained and created thousands of new shelter beds for long time Illinois residents across the state. We provided housing and services to young adults aging out of foster care who were at-risk of becoming unhoused, and we gave one-time financial support to working Illinoisans who, due to an acute crisis, fell behind on their rent and risked losing their home or their apartment. We kept thousands of Illinois families in their homes—people who might otherwise have become unhoused. . . .

And we know that Black individuals and families make up 61% of the unhoused while making up only 14% of the overall population. So, this year, we created a racial equity roundtable on Black homelessness—the only effort of this kind in the entire nation. To advance that work, I am proposing an additional $50 million to attack the root causes of housing insecurity for Black Illinoisans, while continuing to serve other at-risk populations like veterans and those who are medically vulnerable with the shelter and wraparound services they need. . . .

Illinois will become the first state in the nation to ban prior authorization for in-patient adult and children’s mental health care. That means patients suffering a mental health crisis can get the care they need without jumping through hoops designed to deny coverage.”


Eric Holcomb (R)
Corrections, Law Enforcement, Substance/Opioid Use

“This is the year we move aggressively on huge capital projects that have been on the drawing board gathering dust for years, including a new prison in Westville, a new Archives Building, new crime labs, a state-of-the-art law enforcement academy, co-locating our world-class blind and deaf schools, and building the first new State Park Lodge since 1939 up at Potato Creek State Park. . . .

And I fully realize there is still a long way to go, but let’s acknowledge that we’re starting to make progress against drug addiction. You, in this chamber helped to create new tools such as 385% more beds for residential addiction treatment, naloxone distribution, the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, and an on-line Treatment Finder for Anyone/Anytime seeking to find recovery. Due to these efforts and others, recent reporting shows statewide drug overdose deaths dropped 5 percent year-over-year!”


Kim Reynolds (R)
Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use

“In the aftermath of Covid, with the influence of social media, and the breakdown of the family, mental health remains a real challenge for many Iowans.

We’ve made significant progress over the last several years, investing millions in behavioral health providers, creating the state’s first children’s mental health system, and funding numerous impactful projects around the state.

One of those projects will soon mark a pivotal moment for Iowa’s youth. This year YSS, a youth-centered non-profit, will open Ember Recovery Campus, a groundbreaking new facility offering 70 behavioral-health beds that will focus on emergency shelter, crisis stabilization, and addiction treatment.

This project, the first of its kind in Iowa, represents the largest public private investment in children’s behavioral health in our history and is a model for our state. . . .

But there’s still more work to be done. In Iowa, there is little to no coordination between our 13 mental-health and 19 substance-use regions. That’s a problem, because over 25% of adults with serious mental health challenges also suffer from substance use.

Our state is filled with capable professionals who care about getting Iowans the support they need. But their talent and dedication are short-changed by a fractured system that makes coordination almost impossible.

To better serve Iowans, I am proposing we combine the 32 different substance-use and mental-health regions together into seven new, unified behavioral health districts.

I’m also proposing to increase support for behavioral-health services with a portion of Iowa’s opioid settlement funds.

The results will be a greater investment on the ground, improved connectivity between providers, districts, and the state, and—most important—treatment delivered to Iowans when and where they need it.”


Andy Beshear (D)
Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use

“We have worked hard to boost access to treatment while also reducing the stigma around asking for help. And in 2022, we saw the first reduction in overdose deaths since 2018—we were one of only eight states to record a decrease.

Combatting this epidemic takes commitment—a commitment we have embraced by increasing treatment beds by over 50% in the last four years—and I am proud to say that we now have the more treatment beds per capita than any other state in the country. . . .

I also want to take a moment to talk about mental health care. Our administration has always treated mental health care the same as physical health. That is why we launched the 988-crisis hotline, which connects Kentuckians facing a risk of suicide, mental health distress or an addiction crisis with trained counselors who can help.”



Jeff Landry (R)
Public Safety

“I want to again thank you on behalf of the citizens of this State for the commitment to public safety and the success we had just a few weeks ago making our State safe. You deserve to give yourself a round of applause, for the people of this great state believe you earned it!

While we are off to a good start, know that our horrific crime stats won’t disappear overnight, but you have proven to America that no State is more committed to making our communities safe!”


Janet Mills (D)
Crisis Response, Mental Health, Violent Crime

“Now, I know this is a lot so let me recap:

  1. Let’s strengthen violence prevention by establishing an Injury and Violence Prevention Program at the Maine CDC;
  2. Let’s expand our crisis mental health system;
  3. Let’s keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people by:
    • strengthening our extreme risk protection law;
    • and by requiring those who advertise guns for sale to check the NICS system;
    • and by toughening our law that makes it illegal to transfer a firearm to a prohibited person.

Prevention. Mental health. And keeping weapons away from dangerous people.

That’s what my proposal boils down to.”


Wes Moore (D)
Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Public Safety, Substance/Opioid Use, Victims, Violent Crime

“Crime is down—and homicides in Baltimore City are the lowest they’ve been in nine years.

But we still wanted to feel protected from violent crime.

People shouldn’t have to choose between feeling safe in their skin and feeling safe in their

communities. . . .

We will listen to law enforcement AND the communities they protect;

We will listen to State’s Attorneys AND our public defenders;

We will listen to elected leaders AND our local advocates.

We’re up against new challenges, so we need to come up with new solutions.

Our state is facing record high vacancies in public safety jobs.

We need to address them—and we will, with legislation we’ve introduced.

Marylanders are seeking justice for victims of crime—more accountability for people who break the law—and better rehabilitation for our children.

We must answer them—and we will, by working in partnership with the General Assembly.

Neighborhoods are calling for us to get these illegal guns off our streets. . . .

We need to keep investing in substance use services, mental health, and lead abatement for children and families.”


Maura Healey (D)
Crisis Response, Mental Health, Public Safety

“We worked, every day, to be a state where everyone can be safe and thrive. That means:

  • Standing up for vulnerable communities with a new hate crimes unit in the State Police.
  • And, because justice can’t wait, we pardoned 13 people in our first year in office, the first administration to do so in 40 years.

There’s a crisis in youth mental health. It’s hurting our young people, and we have to do everything we can to address it.

Last year we expanded school-based mental health support, from early childhood to higher ed. We also launched 26 Community Behavioral Health Centers, to provide urgent, in-person crisis response, around the clock. They served thousands of children. And in one year, we’ve cut in half Emergency Room stays for youth mental health. That’s real impact. . . .

And, for young people with the most complex needs, we’ll address a serious gap in services. Our budget will call for $10 million to develop service models—including residential—that ensure the most vulnerable young people get the care they need, and parents get support.

Let’s be a state where every young person knows that they are not alone, that they can ask for help, and that they will get help.”


Mike Parson (R)
Corrections, Substance/Opioid Use

“When I became Governor, we also inherited nearly 4,000 pending clemency applications. While I’m a law and order Governor, 4,000 people in limbo waiting for an answer is not how we do good business.

Whether approved or denied, we set out to provide answers. Today, I’m proud to announce that the clemency backlog we inherited has been totally cleared for the first time in decades.

BUT as a former sheriff, this reform did not mean we were letting people out of prisons or forgiving violent criminals, we pardoned people who deserved it . . . people who had truly turned their lives around . . .

Another issue affecting Missouri children is the fentanyl crisis. . . .

This year, alongside Senator Thompson-Rehder and Representative Parker, we are proposing legislation that guarantees stricter punishments for exposing children and minors to fentanyl.

The fentanyl crisis is here and is tearing families and communities apart. Children dying from fentanyl is 100 percent preventable.”

New Hampshire

Chris Sununu (R)
Crisis Response, Juvenile Justice, Mental Health, Substance/Opioid Use

“When I got elected I said Mental Health was the unspoken crisis of our time. It was ignored and the system was fractured.

But with new funding, revamped programs, and an emphasis on prioritizing people over bureaucracy, we have turned the tide. We are finally giving families a sense that in their toughest times, there is a system that is focused on better solutions.

Thousands of NH families today are struggling with mental health issues in a variety of forms.

So why is there good cause for hope?

Just a few years ago we challenged ourselves with a bold 10-Year Mental Health plan.

And this legislature has been aggressive in taking on all those recommendations.

We kept that momentum going and last summer the Department of Health and Human Services launched ‘Mission Zero,’ building on years of progress with the goal of eliminating Emergency Department Boarding once and for all.

And we are backing that mission up with historic investments:

NH has financed a public private partnership with Solutions Health for a new state-of-the-art mental health hospital.

We also purchased Hampstead Hospital for children with acute mental illness.

We reconstructed a wing of New Hampshire Hospital with new beds slated to open in just a few months.

We are building a brand new Forensic Hospital slated to open next year.

All huge capital investments with the goal of getting citizens out of Emergency Rooms and into the best care facilities possible.

Our community investments are working as well.

Last year over 5,000 children were served through our Rapid Response Crisis Services

Over 2,000 received assistance from our Mobile Response Teams.

We’ve increased mental health supported housing by 61%.

We have New Crisis Stabilization Centers moving patients away from Emergency Rooms.

And when it comes to youth detention, NH now has the LOWEST rate in the country. . . .

And unfortunately, too often our mental health efforts become tied into the opioid and fentanyl crisis. . . .

Now thanks to the very successful Doorway Program we implemented in 2019, New Hampshire citizens have access to wraparound services and options of care across the state.

And New Hampshire created the Recovery Friendly Workplace program (which has gone national), allowing nearly 100,000 citizens to work for a Recovery Friendly Workplace.

New Hampshire is now bucking the unfortunate national trend of skyrocketing overdose deaths. The rest of the country is up almost 60% in drug related deaths since 2018, NH’s numbers are down.”

New Jersey

Phil Murphy (D)
Law Enforcement, Public Safety, Violent Crime

“Just last week, we received word that—in 2023—we saw our lowest number of shootings in nearly 15 years.

For those wondering how that could be, there is a simple explanation:

It is because we have provided historic funding to community-based violence prevention efforts—empowering residents in cities like Newark, Paterson, Jersey City, Trenton, and more.

It is because we have some of the strongest gun safety laws in the entire country.

And it is because we have some of the finest law enforcement officers in the United States . . .

As a result, we are saving lives. And making New Jersey a safer place to raise a family.

At the same time, in improving public safety, we are also taking steps to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

But we have more to do. We must continue reforming a justice system that has failed Black and Brown communities for far too long.

That means undoing the damage of the failed War on Drugs. And helping our neighbors who have been unjustly thrown behind bars get back on track.

In that spirit—and in the next few months—I will be announcing a new clemency initiative that will ensure we live up to our promise as the state for second chances.”

New Mexico

Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)
Substance/Opioid Use, Violent Crime

“We know that the violence in our communities is frequently committed by career criminals—and some of them continue their pattern of crime while awaiting trial. That’s why I’m enhancing commercial burglary statutes to treat repeat offenses like the pattern that they are. And it’s why we need to mandate pretrial detention for violent and repeat offenders with a rebuttable presumption so dangerous people can be kept away from the public. This idea isn’t new—it’s embedded in the federal justice system, and it works. So, let’s take something that works and apply it here to keep New Mexicans safe.

I am also asking the legislature to pass mandatory treatment for persons repeatedly entering the judicial system for using illicit substances—and who are often unhoused—for their own health and safety, and for the well-being of our communities. We need responsible and compassionate action that makes a lasting difference, and that means getting these individuals the treatment they need and deserve. It’s the only way we will interrupt systemic challenges to our communities. . . .

In communities across the state, we have seen the carnage that results and the risk that is ever-present when weapons of war and frankly guns are far too easy to obtain. . . .

That’s why I am calling for a gun safety package that bans assault weapons, raises the legal purchase age for all guns to 21, institutes a 14-day waiting period, increasing penalties for felons in possession of a firearm, keeps guns out of parks and playgrounds, and allows law enforcement officers to file Extreme Risk Protection Orders to keep firearms away from people who are a danger to themselves or others. These are common-sense measures that will save lives. . . .”

New York

Kathy Hochul (D)
Mental Health, Violent Crime

“In the past year, we’ve reduced gun violence and brought shootings down by more than a third statewide. Our success in bringing down gun violence proves that targeted strategies work—and changing trends is possible.

For decades, our mental health system was deprioritized and defunded. Make no mistake: this is the defining challenge of our time. Too often, the people involved in violent incidents on our streets and in our subways are victims themselves—victims of a system that has failed to provide them the treatment they need. Last year, we set a bold ambitious goal to invest $1 billion to transform the continuum of mental health care in New York and we’ll continue fighting for comprehensive reforms to our behavioral health system.

Focusing on our kids is critical—because they’re our most precious resource. Whether it’s creating school-based mental health clinics or taking on social media companies, we need a comprehensive approach to youth mental health. We must help the children who are hurting right now.”

North Dakota

Doug Burgum (R)
Behavioral Health, Crisis Response, Housing/Homelessness, Law Enforcement, Substance/Opioid Use

“[W]e need to expand the marketing of the 988 suicide crisis line. This is a valuable, accessible, free resource which can be called or texted anytime. So effective immediately, what we’re doing across the governor’s office and every cabinet agency that we have in the state. We’re going to display the 988 icon on the front page of those web pages that will link people to the resources that we need. . . . Let’s destigmatize the fear of asking for mental health support because that’s one of the problems we have. . . .

[O]ne of the things that we have focused on is Free Through Recovery. It’s substantially increased recovery support services for individuals that got involved with the criminal justice system, which we talked about earlier, it’s the most expensive way to treat a behavioral health problem is in incarceration. Sometimes it’s necessary if you get violent crime, but there are times when what we need to be doing is having the services up front that keep people from getting in a situation where they’ve got to conduct property crimes to pay for their addiction.

This program that we have right now, Free Through Recovery, currently has more than 1,700 participants in it. And it serves nearly 6,300 individuals through 57 care coordinated providers. And what this is doing is reducing recidivism. If we can get people who’ve been in the criminal justice system, related to addiction, and we get them out, and then we can keep them out, and help them, you know, get a job, get a place to live, get a driver’s license, the social determinants of health. We keep them out now we’ve got more people in the workforce. We’ve got more people connected with their family and their kids, and we’re spending less money on the back end on incarceration. So it’s a win for everybody.

Substance Use Disorder Vouchers. 7,000 individuals have access to these Substance Use Disorder Vouchers program. Thank you, legislature, $18 million to help support this. This is a drop in the bucket compared to what we pay on the back end for DOCR and for all of the county and city jails around the state. In our in our whole justice system we talked about, it could be 75% related to addiction and behavioral health. . . .

We have rural areas where there’s not anywhere close to enough providers. So the program that came up was let’s take people with lived experience, who can help others attain and stay in recovery. And now we have 1,000 Peer Support Specialists, over half of them have gotten criminal justice, interaction, a.k.a., they’re likely a felon. These are people that might have been unemployable and they’re actually now working and have a job keeping other people sober, keeping other people in recovery, and keeping other people out of an expensive solution which is back at criminal justice. . . .

670 people have been served through recovery housing assistance since May 22. Got 11 providers, 30 recovery homes, again, this is working to help keep people back in a productive way and be the better neighbors, as opposed to you know, trying to make better prisoners. . . .

We’ve made great strides through access and services to people facing addiction. We know that our state’s behavioral health providers are increasingly challenged by workforce shortages. So in addition, the peer support specialist program we’re also working with the coming months, we’re going to work with the university leaders, the health care system, private sector to help solve this critical issue. The Office of Recovery Reinvented in partnership with North Dakota’s HHS will be helped by facilitating conversations and strategic planning efforts across the state regarding behavioral health workforce specifically. And expect legislators to see some new legislation coming to help solve that particular problem. . . .

It’s important that we support the men and women in uniform who protect our communities we’ve backed the blue with our words, but again, backing with our actions. We did that by expanding worker’s comp, providing hiring and retention bonuses. We exempted law enforcement retirement pay from state income tax, and we’ve helped offset the cost of routine medical exams. And our efforts are not going to end there because in addition to law enforcement, we’ve got other people in our state, in our rural state. We want to bring forward a plan to support all our law enforcement officials across North Dakota making this the premier place to work in law enforcement, where law enforcement respected.”


Kevin Stitt (R)
Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Public Safety, Substance/Opioid Use

“In 2021 I asked who had the authority to make arrests and prosecute people?

Today, we are dealing with the fallout from the conflict at Okmulgee County Jail where, due to disagreements about who has authority over that part of the state, there was a standoff as a Creek tribal officer tried to arrest a county correctional officer in his own jail.

Three years after McGirt, we are still operating under a confusing and conflicting patchwork of jurisdiction across our state.

It is imperative that we clarify our law enforcement relationships immediately.

That’s why I created the One Oklahoma Task Force to come up with cross-deputization and jail agreements.

I hope that this task force can work to find a solution that protects the safety of all four million Oklahomans, regardless of their race or heritage, and I hope the tribes will choose to participate. . . .

I want to be clear: Oklahoma is a law and order state.

We support our law enforcement.

We punish criminals.

We protect our citizens.

I want to put criminals on notice: you are not welcome here and you will serve time.

We believe in fair sentences, and we believe in second chances.

We’ve worked hard here to make sure we are prosecuting crimes and rehabilitating those with substance abuse and mental health struggles, and we are focusing on eliminating barriers for those who have served their time.

With efforts like the Sarah Stitt Act and our drug court system, we are now #2 in lowest recidivism rates in the nation.”


Josh Shapiro (D)
Crisis Response, Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Violent Crime

“Our police officers do a dangerous job in dangerous conditions, and we need to have their backs.

Last year, we provided funding to help local police departments recruit more officers.

We also made a massive investment in the Pennsylvania State Police, creating four new state trooper cadet classes—which PSP is already hiring for.

But the need is great—and it’s clear we need an additional four cadet classes.

And now is the time to do it, because PSP saw a 258 percent increase last year in the number of applicants taking the test to become a state trooper. . . .

As we continue to make our legal system more fair and just, we have to think about the victims of crime, and those communities that are impacted by gun violence. . . .

With gun violence at unacceptable levels in our communities, it’s long past time for us to take real action.

Lieutenant Governor Davis knows this well—he’s been leading on this issue since his time as a kid in McKeesport when he saw someone get shot on his block.

Now, thanks to his leadership at PCCD, for the first time ever, we’re going to fund a statewide Office of Gun Violence.

And invest another 100 million to address gun violence in Pennsylvania . . .

A budget is a statement of our values and as we think about our values, let’s remember what happens between your ears is just as important as what happens to the rest of your body.

We’ve already done meaningful work to address this, investing 100 million dollars in student mental health and 20 million dollars for county mental health support.

This budget matches those investments and goes even further by increasing support for county-level mental health services . . .

Investing to keep the 988 crisis hotline in operation . . .

And supporting walk-in mental health crisis centers.”

Rhode Island

Dan McKee (D)
Housing/Homelessness, Law Enforcement, Violent Crime

“In addition to the budget I’ll propose—I’m looking forward to working with the General Assembly on several key issues:

Finding common ground and reforming the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, finding new ways to speed up housing production, and this year—let’s finally pass an assault weapons ban in Rhode Island.”

South Carolina

Henry McMaster (R)
Corrections, Law Enforcement, Violent Crime

“Our state law enforcement and criminal justice agencies have begun to stem the tide of personnel loss with recruitment and retention pay raises provided in the previous two General Appropriations Acts.

I propose that we build on this success, by providing an additional $17.8 million for recruitment and retention pay raises in FY 2024–2025. Invaluable experience should not be allowed to walk out the door.

I am also once again proposing a $2,000 state income tax credit for every active-duty law enforcement officer, firefighter, first responder, and emergency medical technician employed by a public entity.

Additionally, this budget maintains a proviso suspending the $10,000 retirement cap for anyone enrolled in the Police Officer Retirement System. This will allow retired officers to return to work and fill existing vacancies.

Placing an armed, certified school resource officer in every school, in every county, all day, every day, has been one of my top priorities.

At my request, the General Assembly began providing funds to hire more resource officers for our state’s 1,284 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 in 2018 to 1,109 in 2023.

I am recommending an additional $13.4 million to add officers in each of the remaining 175 schools currently without an assigned SRO. . . .

In July 2023, the South Carolina Department of Corrections began utilizing a process that allows mobile phone providers to permanently disable contraband phones and devices. They are detected by a certified contraband interdiction system approved by the Federal Communications Commission. To date, over 875 phones and devices have been disabled at Lee Correctional Institution. My Executive Budget recommends $23 million to expand this valuable program to each prison in our state. . . .

Our law enforcement officers know who the repeat criminals are. They commit over 80 percent of the crimes.

Unfortunately, this is happening every day. How long are we going to let this happen?

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

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

During the last year, I have continually called on this General Assembly to act, to simply take a vote, and pass graduated criminal penalties for illegal gun possession so that I can sign it into law.

And during this last year, it has become an almost daily occurrence for an innocent South Carolinians to be shot or shot at by a career criminal who should be behind bars instead of roaming our streets with virtual impunity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this new law will require no appropriation—no money—except whatever it costs to feed these killers while they rest peacefully behind bars.”

South Dakota

Kristi Noem (R)
Reentry/Employment, Substance/Opioid Use

“We have led the nation in the decrease in overdose deaths two out of the past three years, and we are 2nd lowest in the nation overall. But we can’t stop there—we need to tackle the rising challenge of fentanyl and address the drug xylazine, otherwise known as the “zombie” drug. When xylazine is mixed with fentanyl, it makes an already deadly drug even deadlier, and it brings with it a whole host of negative health consequences. My Department of Health is working with Attorney General Jackley on legislation to schedule xylazine as a schedule III controlled substance to combat this challenge in South Dakota.

But if South Dakotans do get involved in drugs or another aspect of crime, that should not be the final word. Their punishment should match their crime, but they should also have the opportunity to rehabilitate and become better, more capable members of our society. . . .

The new prisons that we are working together to construct will help achieve this, but we are not waiting until they are constructed to provide second chances for our people. Late last year, I spoke at a graduation for the Sixth Circuit Problem-Solving Court. Eight graduates—all of whom had been sober for a year or more—stood up and shared their stories and their hopes and dreams for the future. In fact, more than 150 South Dakotans graduated from this initiative last year. This is a rigorous program that includes five phases and requires frequent alcohol and drug testing. It’s a proven strategy that reduces recidivism, saves taxpayer dollars in the long-run, and restores hope and dignity for these individuals. . . .

Unfortunately, we can’t provide this type of programming in our old and overcrowded prisons. Last month, I commuted the sentence of a number of inmates, who qualified, giving them parole. They had been incarcerated with ingestion as their highest offense. Now they can begin their supervised transitions back into the community. We will continue to evaluate these second-chance opportunities for those who can prove they deserve them.

Once individuals are out of custody and back into society, we want them to have the opportunity to build a career so that they can provide for themselves and their families. In the last several years, we have advanced licensure reform in a variety of ways. There is another step on this path that we should take. My Department of Labor & Regulation is bringing legislation to provide second-chance license opportunities. This bill creates a set of standards to consider criminal histories and any possible rehabilitation by applicants and licensees. We need more plumbers, more electricians, more welders, and an unrelated criminal past shouldn’t stop qualified applicants from filling these roles.”


Bill Lee (R)
Behavioral Health, Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Public Safety, Substance/Opioid Use

“We’ve created innovative programs across our justice system, resulting in Tennessee’s lowest recidivism rate in state history.

We’ve provided funding to hire 200 new Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers, and this year, we’re proposing an additional 60 troopers to continue growing the force.

I’m incredibly proud of our work together to support local law enforcement agencies across Tennessee with a $150 million investment in the Violent Crime Intervention Fund. These dollars are at work right now in areas of our state that need it most—places like Shelby County where I believe that state and local partnerships can and will make a real difference. . . .

In last year’s state of the state address, I talked about the importance of public safety and why school safety matters to every single Tennessean. At that time, we had no idea that we were about to face one of the most difficult moments our state had ever seen.

Covenant experienced unimaginable tragedy, but tragedy doesn’t have to be the end of the story. There is a redemption in struggle, if we lean into it.

That’s why, over the last year, we have worked together and made significant progress building on our strong foundation for school safety, starting with a $140 million grant to place a trained, armed school resource officer in every Tennessee public school. . . .

In addition to rural health, the funds from this year’s shared savings will allow us to again invest in mental health—another challenge that is prevalent, not just in our state, but across the country.

Nearly four-in-ten Tennesseans report symptoms of anxiety or depression. Drug and opioid overdoses remain an enormous challenge.

We’ve done a lot of work in the last five years to boost mental health resources across our state. This year, we’re investing more than $100 million over five years, from the shared savings, in behavioral health and substance abuse support in Tennessee.”


Spencer Cox (R)
Housing/Homelessness, Mental Health

“Now, there is another troubling trend happening across our country: the growing crisis of homelessness. All across America, in our most iconic cities, people are suffering and dying on the streets. Tents and camps metastasizing. Assaults, shoplifting and vandalism skyrocketing.Citizens scared to walk down their streets or play with their kids in public parks.

But, there is nothing that requires us to be like the rest of the nation. I refuse to believe that our capital city must suffer the same fate. Not on our watch. Zero-sum thinking says that we must choose between compassion and accountability. We decline that offer. There is nothing compassionate about allowing people to suffer and die on our streets and there is nothing compassionate about allowing laws to be flagrantly ignored and broken. We can provide help and demand accountability.

Unsanctioned camping must end. We will provide help and services for those in need, real consequences and jail for those who willingly break the law, and civil commitment when absolutely necessary. . . .

We can significantly increase the number of licensed professionals to help those struggling with mental health.”


Phil Scott (R)
Nonviolent Crime, Substance/Opioid Use, Violent Crime

“A growing number of headlines share news of the latest murder, drug-related shooting, and small businesses struggling with increasing vandalism and theft.

Here’s the thing, it’s not just the headlines. According to reports from the Council of State Governments, in 2017 Vermont had the second lowest property crime and second lowest violent crime rates in the nation. By 2022, we had dropped to 18th and eighth.

And in the last 10 years, violent crime reported to police increased 56%, aggravated assault by 65%, sexual assault by 76%, and homicide by 166%. We cannot deny these trends.

When those who victimize others are put back on the streets, hours after being apprehended only to reoffend again and again, Vermonters question law enforcement, prosecutors, our courts, and they question the wisdom of the work done here in this building.

Now, I want to give credit where credit is due: We’ve made progress on justice reform and treating addiction as the public health crisis it is.

But when spiking crime rates make it clear that not all the changes have been effective, we have a responsibility to take a step back and consider other strategies.

We must make a real effort this session to solidify our place as the safest state in the country and reverse the increases we’re seeing—both for the people we serve and the victims of these crimes.”


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

“Virginians suffer when we miss the opportunity to lead. There is no greater reminder of this than the stark fact that on average 5 Virginians die from fentanyl poisoning every single day.

And because of weak drug laws, too many drug dealers are not prosecuted.

Send me a bill that will raise the penalty to felony homicide when the manufacturer or distributor of illicit drugs or fentanyl causes a death.

There is no doubt that the ramifications of addictive drugs and the infiltration of violent gangs is at an unprecedented level in our communities and it has resulted in devasting violence. We know a majority of violence is related to drug and gang activity.

We should also know that Virginia’s gun laws are already among the toughest in the nation. Therefore, I’m asking you: allow us to hold accountable those criminals that commit crimes with guns by lengthening and making more severe the penalties in order to keep them off the streets. . . .

The Road to Opportunity for many Virginians will be cleared by accelerating the transformation of our behavioral health system—a transformation desperately needed given the clear behavioral health crisis that we face.

And while this is a three-year journey, we just celebrated the one-year anniversary of our “Right Help, Right Now” transformation. This time last year, we’d hoped to have 2 new emergency room alternatives, and today we have 8, and there’s more to come.

In the month of November alone, we received over 8,300 calls on the 988 line. And Virginia is among the top in the nation in answering those calls quickly.

We started this journey with 36 mobile crisis units, with a goal of doubling them. And I can tell you, today we are at 97 mobile crisis units in the Commonwealth, and still going strong.”


Jay Inslee (D)
Behavioral Health, Housing/Homelessness, Law Enforcement, Substance/Opioid Use

“People-focused policies are also how we’re addressing homelessness.

Some think we can just wave a wand and those living in homelessness will disappear. But this is the real world, and we have an honest solution: Build housing and connect people to the right services, and they will succeed. . . .

Washingtonians can see that dozens of encampments along our highways are gone and that’ll continue if we make the necessary investments. And they’re going to see thousands more new housing units thanks to our work as well.

I want to thank this Legislature for going big on housing last session and trusting that it was a necessary decision to put $1 billion toward new housing already this biennium. . . .

Washington state also needs more police officers, and that’s what this budget would do. My budget funds more state troopers and forensic scientists, an organized retail theft task force, and more funding for drug trafficking investigations.

We’re removing barriers to careers in policing by establishing training centers all over the state—where more recruits are getting some of the best training in the country, including de-escalation training. . . .

We must also continue improving behavioral health services in our state. I recently met someone whose family was devasted by fentanyl, who called it ‘the nuclear weapon of drugs.’

We propose $64 million in new spending to fight against opioids and fentanyl. We’re going to invest in education, community health hubs, overdose prevention, treatment access, and recovery supports.”

West Virginia

Jim Justice (R)

“Corrections were in the papers all the time. Absolutely, with all in us, we know. We all know we’ve got work to do there. We all know the simple, simple thing that happened. I mean for God’s sakes-a-livin,’ let’s just call it like it is. What happened was, you know, absolutely, everybody said, maybe subconsciously, but said, you know, we got to do this and we got to do this and we got to do this. And those folks did bad stuff.

And really, at the end of the rainbow. Maybe they were the last to get fed. We got to do stuff. And so we have, we have tried to step up and we’ve tried to do amazing, amazing work right now.

We have recently graduated 227 graduates that can now work in our jails all across the state.”


Tony Evers (D)
Behavioral Health, Mental Health

“But I don’t need to remind this Legislature that I requested more than $500 million last year to help expand access to mental and behavioral health services statewide, only a fraction of which was approved. One year after declaring the Year of Mental Health, I’ll tell you tonight, as governor and as a grandfather, my concerns have not changed, and my fears have not waned. Much work remains.

Tonight, I’m announcing I’m creating an Interagency Council on Mental Health and directing Wisconsin state agencies to work together to reduce barriers and address gaps in mental health services. We’re going to develop a statewide Mental Health Action Plan to address the root causes of our mental health crisis, increase awareness and reduce stigma, and build capacity for us to expand access to mental health services statewide.

Our state’s mental health challenges are significant. Let’s do more—and urgently—to make a difference on this issue in 2024. We have to. And I’m optimistic we will because our kids are leading the way.

Students in Merrill are doing amazing work through a student-led program called ‘Raise Your Voice.’ It’s part of an effort led by NAMI Wisconsin to educate, support, and empower youth to talk openly about mental health.”


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

“Over this past year, I have criss-crossed Wyoming and visited communities to listen to the concerns and personal stories of Wyoming people touched by mental health challenges and suicide.

We have heard about mental health in our schools. We have heard about heartbreaking substance abuse and suicide as well as remarkable stories of recovery and hope. We have heard about one mother’s agonizing struggle to locate resources before her son ultimately took his life. We have heard loud and clear about our jails improperly filling with people needing treatment, not incarceration. And, we have heard from organizations and pastors about how they try to address the needs that come through their doors.

You will see in this budget, that I have included a mental health funding package to ensure we buttress services. Your yes vote on this budget advances our mental health efforts significantly. . . .

Mental health is also an issue our sheriffs and police departments are often called upon to address.”

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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