After a year-long effort, hundreds of millions of dollars were appropriated for violence intervention, reentry programs, and mental health crisis response
Washington, D.C. – The Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) and the National Coalition for Shared Safety (NCSS) applaud federal leaders for taking significant steps this year to dramatically increase funds to improve safety and justice policy in the U.S., culminating on December 20 with a spending package that is expected to fund the federal government for this fiscal year.
“We have been working throughout the year with our partners in the National Coalition for Shared Safety to demonstrate to lawmakers that more resources are needed to scale up violence intervention, reentry programs and mental health crisis response, as well as to expand options to address trauma and instability experienced by crime victims. As this Congress winds up its work with a final spending package, we applaud their work over the year to increase resources for these critical safety solutions,” said Shakyra Diaz, Chief of Federal Advocacy at Alliance for Safety and Justice.
This year, Congressional actions and the budget agreement reached on December 23 contained funding for these key safety solutions:
- More than a quarter of a billion dollars for interventions to prevent violence. In 2022, NCSS advocated for the establishment of and for $50 million in funding for the Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative (CVIPI) to support local efforts to develop interventions to prevent violence. This year, Congress voted to allocate $250 million dollars for CVIPI over the next five years, and the budget agreement included an additional $50 million for FY 2023.
- $150 million increase to support mental health crisis response. NCSS advocated for $165 million for the Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) administered by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. The budget agreement includes a $150 million increase for the Mental Health Block Grant.
- $115 million for funding for reentry programs to increase opportunities. NCSS advocated for an increase in funding for the Department of Labor’s Reentry Employment Opportunities, a program that supports various state and local government initiatives, and community-based organizations, that prepare individuals with past convictions for employment. Congress increased funding by $13 million for this program in the budget agreement.
- Responses to address trauma and instability experienced by young crime victims. The NCSS advocated for funding for the Children Exposed to Violence initiative, an initiative run through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention designed to address the needs of children who are experiencing or witnessing violence, abuse, and other adverse childhood experiences while also supporting their parents. Congress voted to fund the Children Exposed to Violence program to $10 million in the next fiscal year.
While these are historic federal investments, research from ASJ shows that there is still a significant need for policymakers to redouble their efforts in 2023 and beyond to scale up these safety solutions to the level they are needed. Per 100,000 residents, ASJ’s research shows communities need at least 25 people working on community violence intervention efforts, employment initiatives that can serve 150 people returning to communities from prison to help them achieve stability and mobility, and two dozen staff working in mental health crisis response programs.
“We are grateful that federal lawmakers have made these historic public safety solutions investments,” said Jay Jordan, CEO of the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “We look forward to working with federal lawmakers to bring those investments to scale.”
The National Coalition for Shared Safety represents leading organizations that are advancing community safety solutions and joining together to promote the most effective strategies to achieve public safety for all. It includes critical assistance providers supporting crime survivors and people living with past convictions, as well as public health providers and business leaders. The organizations in the coalition specialize in trauma recovery, health, mental health, violence prevention, and reentry support.
Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a national advocacy organization that aims to replace ineffective criminal justice system policies with what works to keep people safe. We represent diverse crime survivors as well as people living with old records as key public safety stakeholders. ASJ brings our members together with state leaders and coalition partners to win reforms that stop cycles of crime, reduce costly incarceration, and make communities safer. We support a range of “shared safety” reforms, including crime prevention, community health, rehabilitation, economic mobility, and trauma recovery.