NCSL held its 2019 Capitol Forum in Phoenix on Dec. 9-12, 2019. Additional information on the criminal justice agenda, including accompanying resources, can be found on NCSL’s Capitol Forum website. Programming highlights for the Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety Committee are below.
Attendees heard from federal and state experts on how disaster spending is shared between federal, state and local governments, and how mitigation measures can save everyone money at a time when disaster costs are increasing.
Joel Doolin, Office of Policy and Program Analysis, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Ryan Colker, International Code Council
Colin Foard, The Pew Charitable Trusts
The 2019-2020 term of the U.S. Supreme Court promises to be an exciting one. Attendees heard about immigration, abortion, transgender civil rights and gun control among many other hot issues the court will consider this year. State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) Counsel Lisa Soronen analyzed these cases and offered a glimpse of other interesting cases before the court this year.
Speaker: Lisa Soronen, State & Local Legal Center, Washington, D.C.
Arming school personnel—including teachers, leaders and school resource officers—has become a topic of serious debate as state and local policymakers work to find solutions to keep students safe at school during acts of violence. Attendees heard state legislators, including Arkansas Senator Joyce Elliott, share their perspectives and discuss how their states and school districts have chosen to respond.
The steering committee held its second meeting Jan. 17-18 in Austin in conjunction with NCSL's Executive Committee Meeting. The agenda is available. The steering committee heard from experts in disaster mitigation and recovery such as the Texas General Land Office Disaster Recovery director, Iowa Homeland Security director and Homeland Security advisor, the First Responder Network Authority, International Code Council, the Western Fire Chiefs Association and others. The steering committee continued the work of its three working groups: 1) State-Federal Spending; 2) Infrastructure and Housing Resilience; and 3) Interstate Agreements. Attendees had the opportunity to visit ICON to see an example of how private-sector innovations–3D printed housing–are solving disaster challenges. Visit the partnership webpage for resources and presentations from the Winter Convening, 2019 Summer Convening, and more.
In December, House and Senate appropriators completed negotiations to fund the federal government. The $1.37 trillion deal includes appropriations for all 12 FY 2020 agency spending bills, as well as $1.375 billion for the president’s border wall—the main issue of contention since the appropriations process began early spring 2019. The president is scheduled to release his 2021 budget request on Feb. 10. A summary of homeland security and justice FY 2020 appropriations are included below.
On Jan. 27 the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a nationwide injunction on the public charge rule allowing the new rule to go into effect. NCSL opposed this rule in comments submitted to the Department of Homeland Security. For more information on public charge, see NCSL’s resource: Immigration and Public Charge: DHS Proposes New Definition.
As of January 2020, four bills have been introduced in Congress aimed at expanding Pell Grants eligibility to incarcerated individuals. This federal funding will allow eligible education institutions to provide vocational and educational training to those currently incarcerated. More information on the benefits of education programs within prisons can be found here.
This month, the DHS released its “Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, the Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labor, and Child Sexual Exploitation.” This strategy articulates the department's long-term approach for combating these crimes and is meant to serve as a framework to prioritize resources and monitor progress. The strategy supports the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, a cabinet-level entity that coordinates federal efforts to combat human trafficking. The strategy identifies five goals:
The Vera Institute of Justice released its “Incarceration in Local Jails and State Prisons” state fact sheets. Each fact sheet is only four pages and shows where each state stands on a variety of jail and prison statistical measures. For several years, Vera researchers have been working to advance the availability of county- and state-level incarceration data through projects such as the Incarceration Trends data tool and the People in Prisons report series. The documents are designed to allow readers to easily see how their state compares to others. Data is broken down by race, gender, and geography to feature three aspects of incarceration that are at the core of Vera’s research and advocacy: racism as a central feature of mass incarceration, rapid growth in the number of women behind bars, and rising incarceration rates in smaller cities and rural counties.
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