Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Fiscal Year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill

Funding bill provides greater investment in programs that increase public safety and reduce recidivism.

By CSG Justice Center Staff

U.S. CapitolThe Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved the fiscal year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which provides $30.7 billion for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and includes $2.87 billion for various state and local law enforcement assistance grant programs.

The bill provides $90 million in funding for the Second Chance Act in FY19. The Second Chance Act, which was originally passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008, authorizes federal grants for vital programs and systems reform aimed at improving the reentry process and reducing recidivism. Since 2009, more than 840 Second Chance grants have been awarded to government agencies and nonprofit organizations from 49 states for reentry programs that have served an estimated 164,000 adults and juveniles. Earlier this year, the House Appropriations Committee approved a similar version of the fiscal year 2019 CJS Appropriations bill on a vote of 32-19.

An increase for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) is also included in the bill, from $25 million in FY18 to $28 million in FY19. JRI helps state and local governments conduct comprehensive, data-driven analyses of their criminal justice systems and adopt evidence-based policies designed to reduce corrections spending and increase public safety. Because of the federal investment in the JRI, 30 states have deployed the Justice Reinvestment approach since 2010 to develop policies to slow overall prison growth, and for some states, reduce the total prison population. Through congressional support for the JRI, states have reported cumulative savings and averted costs over $1.1 billion and have reinvested more than $550 million in a number of key areas to help make communities safer, including improving community supervision, expanding community-based treatment and services, creating grants to local law enforcement, enhancing victims’ services, and more.

Additionally, the bill provides $32.5 million for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA). MIOTCRA was signed into law in 2004 and created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) to help state and local governments and tribal communities improve responses to people who have mental illnesses in the criminal justice system. The JMHCP also facilitates collaboration among the criminal justice, juvenile justice, and behavioral health systems to better serve people who have behavioral health needs and to increase public safety. To date, MIOTCRA appropriations have funded 176 mental health courts and other court-based initiatives, supported 120 local police departments, and provided 435 grants to 49 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and American Samoa.

Below is a breakdown of the criminal justice programs funded by the bill.

CJS Proposed Funding Chart

See a summary of the bill.

See the text of the bill.

View a 2017 brief from the National Reentry Resource Center that highlights some of the advancements made over the last decade in state and local governments’ approaches to reentry and reducing recidivism since the passage of the Second Chance Act.