Last week, the U.S. Congress approved the $1.3 trillion Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill that would set government funding through Sep. 30, 2018. The bill provides $30.3 billion for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and includes $2.9 billion for various state and local law enforcement assistance grant programs.
The bill increases funding for the Second Chance Act, from $68 million in FY17 to $85 million in FY18. 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 more than 166,000 adults and juveniles. Last year, U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL) introduced the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2017, which would continue to authorize federal investments in strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
Additionally, the bill provides $25 million for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), which 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 Justice Reinvestment Initiative, 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 Justice Reinvestment Initiative, 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.
A substantial increase for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) is also included in the bill, from $12 million in FY17 to $30 million in FY18. MIOTCRA was signed into law in 2004 and created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program to help state and local governments and tribal communities improve responses to people who have mental illnesses in the criminal justice system. The program 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.