On June 14, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year FY 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) spending bill on a 30-1 vote. The bill includes $30.7 billion in discretionary appropriations for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), a $402.5 million increase over FY 2018 enacted levels.
The CJS appropriations bill sets funding levels for key state and local law enforcement programs that directly impact counties. $2.87 billion of the $30.7 billion allocated to DOJ has been directed towards state and local law enforcement grant programs, including:
- Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG): The Byrne JAG program receives $445 million, an increase of $25.5 million over FY 2018 enacted levels. Byrne JAG program enables counties across the nation to utilize emerging and evidence-based approaches to the public safety challenges facing their jurisdictions.
- Supporting State and Local Response to the Opioid Epidemic: As a result of the continued nationwide emphasis on our nation’s response to the opioid epidemic, drug and addiction-focused DOJ programs received funding increases in the bill. Funding for drug courts is increased to $80 million, a $5 million increase over FY 2018 enacted levels. Veterans treatment court funding is increased to $22.5 million from the previous year’s $20 million in funding. Lastly, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (COAP) received another boost in funding, increasing from $145 million in FY 2018 to $160 million.
- Second Chance Act Grants: The bill provides $90 million in funding for Second Chance Act grants, a $1 million increase over FY 2018 enacted levels. Second Chance Act grants provide counties with the capacity to reduce recidivism rates for adults released from jail by offering substance abuse treatment, employment assistance and other rehabilitation services.
- Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA): The bill provides $32.5 million in funding for MIOTRCRA, an increase of $2.5 million over FY 2018 enacted levels. MIOTCRA grants are used by counties to reduce the number of individuals with mental illness in jails, from jail diversion programs and mental health courts to in-jail treatment and transitional services.
- State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP): The bill allocates $100 million in funding for FY 2019, a decrease of $140 million from FY 2018 enacted levels. SCAAP reimburses states and local governments for the cost of incarcerating undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of certain crimes. This funding follows continued effort to eliminate the program by both the Trump and Obama Administrations in recent years, though Congress has thus far continued to fund the program in final appropriations bills.
- Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA): The bill funds JJDPA at $297 million, an increase of $15 million over FY 2018 enacted levels. JJDPA allows the federal government to set standards for the care and custody of juveniles and provides direct funding to help counties comply with federal standards and assess and improve their youth justice systems.
Earlier this year, the White House released its FY 2019 budget request, which outlined the administration’s federal spending priorities for DOJ programs. The proposal called for funding cuts to almost all programs that assist state and local law enforcement, including the elimination of SCAAP. While SCAAP did receive a decrease in funding, proposed cuts to other key programs for counties were not included in the Senate appropriations bill.
NACo continues to engage with House and Senate appropriators to ensure necessary funding for key justice related programs and will work to ensure final appropriation measures reflect the needs and priorities of America’s counties.