Hello members of the Midwestern Legislative Conference (MLC) Criminal Justice & Public Safety (CJPS) Committee. Since the last newsletter, several legislative chambers have submitted appointments to the MLC. For those new to the committee, congratulations on your appointment and welcome! If you are interested to know who else serves on the MLC CJPS Committee, you can view the roster here.
In a little over a month, we will finally be able to meet in person in Rapid City, SD, as part of the 75th Annual Meeting of the MLC! Unfortunately, the early registration deadline of June 4 has come and gone. However, if you are interested in attending this fantastic meeting, you can still register here. Unfortunately, the hotels' cutoff date was also June 4 and all the hotels are sold out. CSG Midwest is in the process of finding other hotels and we will have information posted on our website by this Friday, June 11.
The MLC CJPS Committee Meeting will take place on Sunday, July 11 from 10 - 11:30 AM. This meeting will include a presentation on 2021's North Dakota Juvenile Court Act and other regional and national juvenile justice reinvestments and reforms. Lisa Bjergaard, the Director of the North Dakota Division of Juvenile Services, and Rebecca Brown, the Director of Policy at the Innocence Project will present. Additionally, the MLC CJPS Committee will be sponsoring a session on Tuesday, July 13 from 3:45 - 5 PM. This session, "Removing Structural Barriers to Employment," will be presented by Josh Gaines and Adam Diersing from the Council of State Governments (CSG) with a guest appearance by the committee's very own Vice Chair, Nebraska Sen. John McCollister!
In addition to the MLC CJPS Committee-related events, the agenda for the 75th Annual Meeting of the MLC features numerous exciting sessions, presentations, and evening events. Some of the highlights include the Opening Night Reception at Reptile Gardens, The Post-Pandemic Midwest Keynote Presentation, and Family Night at Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore Memorials.
As always, the CSG Justice Center has been doing some great work of late and we want to highlight some of that work here. First, the Justice Center is actively working on behalf of states and localities as they navigate the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. That is a lot of funding for state and local governments to take advantage of, especially in the area of criminal justice and public safety. It can seem daunting wading through all the different funding opportunities created by this bill. Luckily for state and local leaders, the Justice Center recently put out the "American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Guide to Advancing Justice-Related Goals." This guide explores eight justice-related goals and provides a funding breakdown, key takeaways, local highlights, and other resources for each goal.
Next, the CSG Justice Center recently published "A Matter of Public Health and Safety: How States Can Support Local Crisis Systems." This brief highlights five actions state policymakers can take to ensure their state and local mental health crisis systems are as strong as possible. In addition to these actions, the brief lists examples of successful jurisdictions who have achieved cost savings and positive outcomes for their communities.
Increase direct state funding through general funds and grants whenever possible
Leverage Medicaid - a jointly administered federal-state program - to recoup federal matching funds to improve access to crisis-related services across the continuum of care
Form partnerships and help secure financial participation from non-public sectors
Incorporate provisions related to crisis systems in state policies related to increasing access to behavioral health care and other supports
Consider new financing models for public funds that are performance or value based
In this edition of the MLC CJPS Committee newsletter, we will focus on news related to, or involving, the committee's officers. If you have any legislative accomplishments, priorities, or news you would like to share with the rest of the committee in the next newsletter, please contact Mitch Arvidson!
North Dakota Makes Big Changes to Its Juvenile Justice System
On April 28, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed HB 1035, the Juvenile Court Act, the state's first major overhaul of its juvenile justice system since the 1960s. While the rate of North Dakota youth in juvenile facilities has steadily decreased in recent years (down 37% from 1997-2013), it still outpaces the national average.
Beginning in 2019, the CSG Justice Center began analyzing state data, policies, and practices looking for reform opportunities. This analysis was presented to the Commission on Juvenile Justice who developed HB 1035. The legislation was then introduced by the state's Legislative Management agency and was amended and led through the legislative process by the House Judiciary Committee, which MLC CJPS Committee Co-Chair Rep. Shannon Roers Jones serves on.
The details of the legislation will not be covered here because it will be a main topic during the committee's July 11 meeting. However, the bill makes many changes, including creating the categories of juvenile delinquency, deprivation, and child welfare in order to distinguish cases and indicate how each should be handled. Furthermore, the legislation makes provisions to provide youth offenders with counsel regardless of their parent's financial situation.
Illinois Bans Police Deception in Juvenile Interrogations
MLC CJPS Committee Co-Chair Sen. Robert Peters was the main sponsor of SB 2122, which passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly just last week and now awaits the governor's signature. The bill would make any confessions made by juveniles who were deceived during interrogation "inadmissible as evidence." According to the New York University Law Review, juveniles are two to three times more likely to offer up false confessions than adults. In Illinois alone, about 33 percent of false confession-based wrongful convictions came from underage suspects.
This first-of-its-kind legislation had bipartisan support in the Illinois General Assembly and similar bills are now being considered in New York and Oregon.
Nebraska to Study Universal Recognition of Occupational Licensing
In the Nebraska Legislature, much research is done between sessions through interim study resolutions. After these resolutions are passed, the Legislative Research Office then spends the months between sessions conducting research, preparing in-depth reports and memoranda, and exchanging information with other state legislatures. Last month, MLC CJPS Committee Vice Chair Sen. John McCollister introduced LR 191. The resolution creates an "interim study to examine the effect of universal recognition of occupational licenses on populations frequently negatively impacted by occupational licensing in the state."
The populations that could be positively impacted by universal recognition of occupational licenses between states include low-income workers, military members and their spouses, and those with a criminal history. The resolution also states that "improving licensing access may help strengthen state and local economies, encourage migration into the state, promote successful reentry, and reduce incarceration costs.
Universal recognition of occupational licensing will be just one of several topics covered during July 13's MLC CJPS Committee-Sponsored Session, "Removing Structural Barriers to Employment."
Thank you for reading. Watch for the next edition to come out in September 2021.