Smart criminal justice programs funded by Congress

In encouraging news for smart approaches to crime, Congress recently passed the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which includes $26.7 billion to support United States Department of Justice programs, including the Second Chance Act, justice reinvestment and the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration.

The Second Chance Act, enacted in 2008, authorizes federal grants to government agencies to create or enhance services, like reentry programming, that are designed to reduce recidivism. The Act helps to fund many of GEO Reentry Services day reporting centers and other reentry programming.

At GEO Reentry-run day reporting centers, participants undergo, on average, six months of evidence-based reentry programming, which includes cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, if necessary, and life skills training. The programs are designed to target the root of criminal behavior while giving participants the skills and community connections to successfully reenter society.

Justice reinvestment is a data-driven approach that targets reinvesting in strategies that improve public safety to reduce corrections spending. One example of the approach put into action is the Justice Reinvestment Act, which was passed in North Carolina. A recent report by the Council of State Governments Justice Center highlighted the act’s successes in reducing spending while also reducing recidivism and improving public safety.

GEO Reentry is proud to be a part of those successes, operating several day reporting centers in key cities throughout the state.

Another key program the funding will cover is the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration, known as MIOTCRA and signed into law in 2004, which helps government agencies improve response to people with mental disorders who find themselves involved in the criminal justice system. The program targets collaboration between law enforcement officials and behavioral health services so that individuals with mental disorders are receive treatment that is beneficial to them and to society.

All three programs are vitally important to modernizing the way the U.S. approaches crime and criminals. Smart approaches to criminal justice save taxpayer money, reduce recidivism, decrease prison and jail overcrowding and improve public safety.