Five Key Safety Wins in the Federal Omnibus Spending Package

Five Key Safety Wins in the Federal Omnibus Spending Package

The Alliance for Safety and Justice, and its partners in the National Coalition for Shared Safety, applaud Congress and President Biden for passing an omnibus spending package that takes critical steps to improve safety and justice policy in the U.S.

“Real safety solutions need to meet the needs of crime victims and prevent harm by investing in initiatives that promote economic stability, mental health, and stronger communities. As the nation’s largest public safety reform organization, we’ve been working with safety organizations and partners in Congress to advocate for policies that accomplish this at a federal level, and we are thrilled to see a series of critical victories in the omnibus bill signed today by President Biden,” said Shakyra Diaz, Chief of Staff at Alliance for Safety and Justice.

The omnibus spending package, signed today by President Biden, includes four key victories for public safety reform. The package:

  • Creates two pathways where funds included in the omnibus can now be used to automatically seal and “sunset” old criminal records. This includes updates to the National Criminal History Improvement Program that allow funding to be made available to states to develop criminal record change systems to automatically “sunset” and seal old criminal records after a period of time. The omnibus also includes language authorizing Byrne-JAG grants funds to support state efforts to develop systems that automatically sunset old criminal records. These pathways will support employment, housing, and economic stability for seventy million people in the U.S. whose old legal records create barriers to everyday life, and can streamline the complicated and bureaucratic process of sealing records.
  • Increases funding for the Reentry Employment Opportunities (REO) program in the U.S. Department of Labor. This funding will support various state and local government initiatives, and community based organizations, that prepare individuals with past convictions for employment. Not only is this a victory for families and employers, but research shows that employment is associated with reduced recidivism.
  • Reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), ensuring that millions of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking can access critical resources and legal protections. The reauthorization, which had overwhelming bipartisan support, will also expand those protections to include Native American, transgender, and immigrant women.
  • Establishes the Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative (CBVIPI) to support communities in developing comprehensive, evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs. This initiative would allow for the expansion of transformative safety models like trauma recovery centers, which are considered a tool to reach traditionally underserved populations.

Through these initiatives, hundreds of community-based organizations across the United States, including NCSS partner A New Way of Life, will receive Community Project Funding for critical programs that support returning citizens and reduce over-incarceration.

“We must remove barriers that destabilize families, undermine our economy, and worsen racial injustices long after someone has completed their sentence. By introducing two new pathways toward states automatically sunsetting old criminal records, these reforms are a critical step toward getting people back to work, creating jobs, and stabilizing families across the country,” said Jay Jordan, CEO of Alliance for Safety and Justice and founder of its TimeDone program.