Congress is currently considering two bills that could positively impact county jails and alternatives programs. NACo is actively engaged with these bills as they progress and the bills have incorporated counties’ concerns. Both pieces of proposed legislation have the potential to reduce the cost of county jails and could improve the quality of services provided to individuals with substance abuse or mental health treatments needs. Additional funding could also benefit those counties working to create veterans’ courts.
The Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015 (S.993/H.R. 1854) would authorize the Attorney General to award grants to mental health and criminal justice providers to develop an understanding of the flow of individuals with mental illness through the criminal justice system and identify opportunities for improved responses. The grants would be focused on veterans treatment programs involving collaboration among criminal justice, veterans, and mental health and substance abuse agencies and training to teach criminal justice, mental health, and substance abuse professionals how to identify and respond to incidents involving veterans.
Link to summary of S. 993https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/993
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (S. 524/H.R. 953), would authorize the Attorney General to award grants to states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations for programs for treatment alternatives to incarceration for both juveniles and adults and would give priority to states that does not terminate Medicaid enrollment for individuals incarcerated for fewer than 2 years. Link to summary here :https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/524