District of Columbia Courts, Public Defender Service, and Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency Act of 2015by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton
Posted on 2016-01-11
NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
First, I need to thank Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson and Ranking Member Tom Carper for sponsoring the District of Columbia Courts, Public Defender Service, and Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency Act, and for all their hard work in getting it passed in the Senate.
Thanks also are due to my good friend, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, and its Ranking Member, Elijah Cummings, for bringing this bill to the floor and working so closely with us in the District of Columbia.
This bill may seem small, but its technical changes will improve the operations and effectiveness of three District of Columbia criminal justice agencies that are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, and they are under that jurisdiction because of the Revitalization Act, which took over the funding of certain District of Columbia agencies because they are State agencies, to improve the financial condition of the District of Columbia, which was the only city that carried State functions.
This bill gives these agencies some modest new authorities that are already available to comparable Federal agencies. The bill would authorize CSOSA to use incentives-based programs for offenders, instead of only sanctions to get compliance.
This is in keeping with modern penology. It would allow the Public Defender Service to accept and use public grants, voluntary and uncompensated services, such as unpaid law clerks and interns of the kind, for example, that we use here every day, and private contributions made to advance the Public Defender Service's work. It would allow the courts to collect debts owed to it by its employees.
These changes are small and they are noncontroversial, but they mean a great deal to the District of Columbia because they will modernize and improve the daily operations of the District's criminal justice system.
If I may say so while the chairman is on the floor, these small changes, somehow I hope our committee will find a way to allow the courts, themselves, to do so that we do not have to bring such small changes before this body, which has such important work.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.