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Fact Sheet – Update on Justice Department Strategic Plan for Supporting the Goals of the Federal Interagency Alternatives and Reentry Committee

In May 2022, President Biden issued the Executive Order on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety, calling for a whole-of-government approach to strengthening safety and building trust, fairness, and accountability throughout the criminal justice system. The Executive Order established the Federal Interagency Alternatives and Reentry Committee and called on the Attorney General to develop a DOJ-wide strategic plan for advancing the Committee’s three chief goals: safely reducing unnecessary criminal justice interactions, supporting rehabilitation during incarceration, and facilitating reentry into society of people with criminal records.

In April 2023, the Justice Department released its strategic plan, entitled, Rehabilitation, Reentry, and Reaffirming Trust, outlining an ambitious roadmap for operationalizing the Committee’s goals within the federal justice system and among states and localities nationwide. Over the past year, the Department has worked to bring that vision to life, and the Department’s efforts to-date have yielded meaningful and tangible progress across all three goals:

Safely Reducing Criminal Justice System Interactions

The Executive Order calls for a strategy to safely reduce interactions with the criminal justice system. DOJ is committed to seeding, supporting, and strengthening approaches that reduce burden on law enforcement and strengthen public safety, including by:

  • Promoting community-based solutions for addressing less serious offenses. In the past year, DOJ has invested $6 million to support three communities as they develop and test community-driven models for addressing less serious and low-level offenses, as alternatives to traditional law enforcement mechanisms, easing burden on officers and strengthening public safety.
  • Supporting diversion and comprehensive continuums of first response. DOJ has made significant investments in the implementation and evaluation of co-responder models and diversion strategies that connect individuals with behavioral health disorders to community-based resources and alternatives to arrest or incarceration, in appropriate cases. In the past year, DOJ has invested more than $17 million in police-behavioral health cross-system collaboration models designed to improve outcomes for individuals with mental health disorders or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders who come into contact with law enforcement. DOJ has delivered an additional $116 million to states and localities to implement comprehensive approaches to reducing overdose deaths, promoting public safety, and expanding access to prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services in both the community and the justice system.
  • Investing in problem-solving courts. DOJ’s grants are supporting problem-solving courts that divert people with substance use disorders into judicially supervised treatment programs in appropriate cases, with a focus on promoting equity and mitigating disparate outcomes for participants. DOJ has invested approximately $115 million to support problem-solving court programs in the last year alone.
  • Supporting Community-Based Services for Young People – DOJ is investing in promising and evidence-based services designed to prevent delinquency and juvenile justice system involvement, ultimately helping to strengthen safety and improve long term outcomes for young people. In the past year, DOJ launched a new program that has invested over $17 million to help states and localities develop community-based continuums of care for youth involved in or at risk of entering the juvenile justice system, with a focus on positive youth development, prevention, diversion, and treatment services. DOJ has also announced a partnership with AmeriCorps to provide grants to community-based programs that will enhance and expand services for justice-involved youth, which includes engaging those youth as AmeriCorps members.

Supporting Rehabilitation During Incarceration

The Executive Order emphasizes the need to ensure meaningful opportunities for rehabilitation during incarceration. DOJ is committed to bridging the gaps in opportunity for those incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) facilities, and to supporting our state and local correctional partners as they undertake the critical work of promoting rehabilitation in prisons and jails nationwide, including by:

  • Supporting correctional education and employment programs. In September 2023, DOJ announced over $23 million in funding for state- and local-level correctional services that expand access to high school equivalent degrees, vocational training, and other certifications. DOJ has delivered support to correctional and educational institutions to help scale up post-secondary educational opportunities in prisons and take advantage of the reinstatement of Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated students, which took effect in July 2023 after a nearly 30-year ban. Forty-four state corrections departments are now “Pell-ready” and have established processes to select and approve post-secondary education providers. BOP is also expanding access to Pell Grants within federal correctional facilities to help incarcerated students earn college credits and/or a college degree.
  • Delivering jail-specific solutions. In November 2023, DOJ launched the Jails and Justice Support Center, a national training and technical assistance hub that is now partnering with jail administrators to help establish safe and humane environments that effectively serve residents, visitors, and staff. DOJ issued guidance to support the effective management of substance withdrawal in local jails in June 2023, and is now developing resources to help facilitate implementation of these practices in the field. And in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, DOJ launched the second cohort of the Building Bridges initiative in September 2023, delivering assistance for 10 additional jurisdictions as they develop comprehensive continua of care for individuals with opioid use disorder in jails and upon release.
  • Reducing barriers for eligible voters. To help protect the fundamental right to vote in jails, where most individuals are eligible to vote since jails are largely comprised of people awaiting trial or those serving misdemeanor sentences that do not preclude voting and developed resources that combat misinformation on voter eligibility, explain state-specific voter rights for incarcerated persons, and promote strategies for expanding voter registration and access. BOP has increased voting education for all incarcerated adults and expanded voter registration and engagement for those eligible to vote while serving their federal sentence.
  • Expanding access to civil legal services. To aid in the prompt resolution of pending civil legal issues – such as debt collection, access to benefits or child custody matters – that can help support successful reentry and promote public safety, DOJ is launching an innovative pilot program to provide civil legal services to incarcerated individuals in select BOP women’s facilities.

Facilitating Reentry for People with Criminal Records

The Executive Order calls for a strategy for facilitating successful reentry and lowering barriers to opportunity for people with criminal records, underscoring that such efforts are essential to reducing recidivism and reducing crime. DOJ is committed to facilitating successful reentry and lowering barriers to opportunity for people with criminal records, including by:

  • Reducing barriers to government-issued identification. Because people often leave incarceration without a state-issued identification, a common pre-requisite to housing, employment, and other basic societal functions, BOP developed a Release Identification Card that formerly incarcerated individuals may use to obtain a state- issued ID upon return to the community. The ID is currently available to all releasing citizens at all institutions who lack valid state identification, and 21 states currently accept the ID to obtain a state-issued ID. To date, over 3,000 ID cards have been issued.
  • Investing in correctional and reentry programs nationwide. DOJ awarded almost $95 million in the past year to support a wide range of correctional and reentry services and related training and technical assistance designed to meet the needs of youth and adults during incarceration or detention and upon return to their communities. As part of these investments, DOJ launched a new initiative to strengthen the reentry ecosystem by funding intermediary organizations that are now delivering microgrants and capacity building assistance to community-based reentry service providers. OJP has expanded its cohort of Second Chance Fellows, whose professional expertise and lived experience in the justice system are helping inform DOJ’s efforts to promote reentry success.
  • Improving health coverage and continuity of care. DOJ has worked with federal partners and stakeholders in the field over the past year to build awareness of Medicaid 1115 demonstration authorities, an opportunity announced in April 2023 for states to improve care transitions for certain individuals nearing release from incarceration, as well as other related tools for improving continuity of care pre- and post-release. Building on these efforts, DOJ is developing new informational resources to increase understanding of the opportunity among corrections’ stakeholders and will launch a new policy academy for state corrections and Medicaid leaders to build capacity for collaborations that strengthen connections to health care coverage for individuals returning from incarceration.
  • Improving community supervision outcomes. The DOJ-funded Community Supervision Resource Center launched in October 2023 to provide pretrial, probation, and parole supervision agencies with the resources and assistance they need to align operations with best and evidence-based practices for improving outcomes for individuals on supervision. DOJ also awarded nearly $6.5 million to states and localities in 2023 to implement research-driven strategies for promoting supervision success.
  • Piloting a medical-legal partnership. DOJ announced a partnership that will connect medical and legal expertise to identify adults in BOP custody who require long-term access to post-release critical needs like housing, food security, and more. Specifically, this medical-legal partnership will include a team of law and medical professionals who will collaborate to better determine eligibility for, and ensure access to, Social Security disability relief for those who qualify, with the goal of improving long-term access to post-release critical needs and promoting successful reentry. BOP and ATJ are also working to develop and distribute self-help materials to address civil legal needs of adults in custody and a series of workshops focused on civil legal issues.
  • Addressing unjust and unlawful fines and fees. DOJ issued a Dear Colleague Letter for state and local courts and juvenile justice agencies that addresses common court-imposed fines and fees practices and cautions against those practices that may be unlawful and unfairly penalize individuals who are unable to pay or otherwise have a discriminatory effect. Building on this letter, DOJ released a report that highlights the most common and innovative approaches taking place across the country to reduce reliance on criminal and civil fines and fees. DOJ also launched a new initiative to provide training and assistance to help states and localities to address common barriers to creating a more equitable justice system by rethinking the use of fines and fees.
Updated May 23, 2024