Feb 10 2016

During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Breaking the Cycle: Mental Health and the Justice System,” committee members heard testimony from criminal justice experts, including David Guice, the Commissioner of North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Commissioner Guice both discussed the success of North Carolina’s Justice Reinvestment Act, which passed the North Carolina General Assembly and became law during Tillis’ tenure as Speaker of the House. Tillis also stressed the importance of setting aside partisan differences to focus on addressing the mental health needs of Americans who come in contact with the justice system.

Bipartisan legislation like the Justice Reinvestment Act has reduced recidivism, increased public safety, and lowered corrections costs through the implementation of effective, data-driven reforms. The money saved can now be utilized to reinvest in the state’s justice system.  The federal government has an opportunity to emulate the successful reforms of states like North Carolina that free up valuable resources that can then be reinvested in proven mental health initiatives that protect vulnerable populations. 

“I’m not here to throw partisan elbows today. We’ve got a serious problem and we need to fix it,” said Senator Tillis. “We need to get out of this discussion that it’s just about more money, because it’s not just about money. It’s about fundamentally changing the way we address this problem and freeing up money that is being spent for the wrong purposes. We did that in North Carolina with the Justice Reinvestment Act.”