Congress Approves Spending Packages to Fully Fund the U.S. Government

By The Council of State Governments Justice Center Staff

The White HouseLast December, President Donald Trump signed 2 appropriations packages, which contained all 12 appropriations bills, to fund the U.S. government for FY2020. These packages include funding for key criminal justice programs—the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), and the Second Chance Act —aimed at increasing public safety and reducing recidivism at the local and state levels.

Specifically, the packages include:

  • $33 million for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP), which was authorized under MIOTCRA and reauthorized under the 21stCentury Cures Act. JMHCP ensures criminal justice and mental health systems throughout the country have the funds they need to serve some of the nation’s most vulnerable people. The law funds mental health courts, mental health and substance use disorder treatment for people in the criminal justice system, community reentry services, and local law enforcement training to help officers identify and improve their responses to people who have mental health needs. To date, MIOTCRA appropriations have funded 186 mental health courts and other court-based initiatives, supported 146 local police departments, and provided 483 grants to 49 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and American Samoa.
  • $28 million for JRI, a data-driven approach that helps states reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest their savings in strategies that improve public safety. Since 2010, more than 35 states have deployed the justice reinvestment approach to develop policies to slow overall prison growth, and for some states, reduce the total prison population. States have reported cumulative savings and averted more than $1.1 billion in costs while also investing millions in effective supervision and treatment programs to make communities safer, including improving community supervision, expanding community-based treatment and services, creating grants to support local law enforcement, enhancing victims’ services, and more.
  • $90 million for the Second Chance Act, which was reauthorized under the landmark First Step Act of 2018. Since its enactment, recipients of Second Chance Act grants have worked to improve outcomes for people returning to their communities from prisons and jails, providing vital services—including employment training and assistance, substance use disorder treatment, education, housing, family programming, mentoring, and victims support. There have been more than 900 grants awarded in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, allowing jurisdictions to develop, improve, and expand reentry programs and policies. Second Chance Act grantees have served more than 164,000 participants since 2009.

Lastly, the appropriations packages provide $75 million to expand on the First Step Act and develop opportunities for federally incarcerated individuals to participate in evidence-based, recidivism-reducing programming and productive activities.

Below is a breakdown of the criminal justice programs funded by the FY2020 appropriations packages.

Program FY2018 Omnibus FY2019 Omnibus FY2020
Bill
Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act $30m $31m $33m
Justice Reinvestment Initiative $25m $27m $28m
Second Chance Act $85m $87.5m $90m