Issue: Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act
The legislation includes funding for mental health courts and diversion programs.
Court leaders have supported federal funding to assist the states to effectively address offenders with mental-illness. Most recently, the Conference of State Court Administrators adopted a resolution in support of reauthorization of MIOTCRA. (COSCA Resolution 12-M-5 and CCJ Resolution 13-M-7)
In 2003, then Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) introduced the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), which was approved by Congress and became PL 108-414 on 10/30/04. Grants under S. 1194 can be used to create/expand: (1) mental health courts or court-based programs; (2) programs that offer specialized training to criminal or juvenile justice agency officers and employees and mental health personnel in identifying symptoms in order to respond appropriately to individuals with mental illnesses; (3) programs that support cooperative efforts by criminal, juvenile justice, and mental health agencies to promote public safety by offering mental health and substance abuse treatment services; and (4) programs that support intergovernmental cooperation between State and local governments with respect to the mentally ill offender.
In September 2008. Congress reauthorized the MIOTCRA through 2013 (P.L. 110-416).
Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Representative Rich Nugent (R-FL) developed companion bills, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2013, to reauthorize MIOTCRA for $40M per year in grants from FY 2015 through FY 2019. The measure also included a new provision that would allow MIOTCRA funds to be used to support veterans treatment courts. Grants for veterans’ programs, including peer-to-peer counseling, alternatives to incarceration, and transitional services, would be controlled by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Veterans Affairs. No more than 20 percent of the MIOTCRA grants could be used for veterans’ programs, and priority would be given to applications that demonstrate collaboration between criminal justice, mental health, substance abuse and veterans’ service agencies. Representative Nugent introduced H.R. 401 on 1/23/13 and Senator Franken introduced S. 162 on 1/28/13.
On 6/20/13, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 162. It was reported that two Senators have put a hold on Senator Franken’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2013 (S. 162) because of federalism and funding concerns with the bill.
In the House, Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013 (H.R. 3717). H.R. 3717 is a comprehensive bill to address problems in the mental health system. It includes major portions of S. 162 and H.R. 401, including reauthorization of the MIOTCRA at $40 million through FY 2019 and the addition of veterans treatment courts as an eligible purpose for MIOTCRA funds.
On 5/30/14, the House passed the Commerce-Justice-Science bill (H.R. 4660) for FY 2015 funding by a vote of 321-67. On 6/5/14, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved their FY 2015 proposal (S. 2437) by a vote of 30-0. Both bills included $9M for MIOTCRA.
The FY 2015 omnibus appropriations bill (P.L. 113-235) included $9M for the MIOTCRA.
For the FY 2016 funding cycle, the President requested $14M for MIOTCRA. The House approved $13M and the Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended $10M for MIOTCRA.
On 12/10/15, the Senate passed Senator Franken’s S.993 by a voice vote. On 1/12/16, the House Judiciary Committee approved the companion bill (H.R. 1854) by a voice vote.
The FY 2016 omnibus bill (P.L. 114-113) included level funding of $10 M for MIOTCRA. Preliminarily, MIOTRA gets $12M in the ongoing FY17 funding cycle. After a year-end CR extended FY 2016 spending levels until April, the 115th Congress will impose its will on the FY 2017 appropriations and as well as for FY 2018.