U.S. House Members Express Support for Key Justice Programs

By CSG Justice Center Staff

U.S. CapitolCongressional leaders in March took strong bipartisan action in support of three programs in FY 2019—the Second Chance Act, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI)—aimed at increasing public safety and reducing recidivism at the local and state level.

  • U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Mark Walker (R-NC) gathered 74 signatures from members of the House in support of continued funding for the Second Chance Act, which will mark its 10th anniversary this year. 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, addiction treatment, education, housing, family programming, mentoring, and victims support. There have been more than 840 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 grantees have served more than 166,000 participants since 2009. A 2017 report from the National Reentry Resource Center highlighted states that have had significant reductions in recidivism, including Michigan, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, and Arizona.
  • U.S. Reps. Doug Collins (R-GA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), and Norma Torres (D-CA) gathered 68 signatures from members of the House in support of continued funding for MIOTCRA. The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program—authorized under MIOTCRA and reauthorized under the 21st Century Cures Act—ensures the criminal justice and mental health systems have the funds they need to serve some of the nation’s most vulnerable individuals. The law funds mental health courts, mental health and addiction treatment for people in the criminal justice system, community reentry services, and local law enforcement training to help officers identify and improve their response to people who have mental illnesses. 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.
  • U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Tom Marino (R-PA) gathered 68 signatures from members of the House in support of continued funding for JRI, a data-driven approach that helps states reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest savings in strategies that improve public safety. Since 2010, 30 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 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.