IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
April 3, 2006
Mr. Kohl (for himself, Mr. Kennedy, and Mr. Durbin) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To authorize the Attorney General to award grants to State courts to develop and implement State courts interpreter programs.
This Act may be cited as the
State Court Interpreter Grant Program
Congress finds that—
the fair administration of justice depends on the ability of all participants in a courtroom proceeding to understand that proceeding, regardless of their English proficiency;
19 percent of the population of the United States over 5 years of age speaks a language other than English at home;
only qualified court interpreters can ensure that persons with limited English proficiency comprehend judicial proceedings in which they are a party;
the knowledge and skills required of a qualified court interpreter differ substantially from those required in other interpretation settings, such as social service, medical, diplomatic, and conference interpreting;
the Federal Government has demonstrated its commitment to equal administration of justice regardless of English proficiency;
regulations implementing title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the guidance issued by the Department of Justice pursuant to Executive Order 13166, issued August 11, 2000, clarify that all recipients of Federal financial assistance, including State courts, are required to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their proceedings for persons with limited English proficiency;
34 States have developed, or are developing, court interpreting programs;
robust, effective court interpreter programs—
actively recruit skilled individuals to be court interpreters;
train those individuals in the interpretation of court proceedings;
develop and use a thorough, systematic certification process for court interpreters; and
have sufficient funding to ensure that a qualified interpreter will be available to the court whenever necessary; and
Federal funding is necessary to—
encourage State courts that do not have court interpreter programs to develop them;
assist State courts with nascent court interpreter programs to implement them;
assist State courts with limited court interpreter programs to enhance them; and
assist State courts with robust court interpreter programs to make further improvements and share successful programs with other States.
State court interpreter program
The Administrator of the Office of Justice Programs of
the Department of Justice (referred to in this section as the
Administrator) shall make grants, in accordance with such
regulations as the Attorney General may prescribe, to State courts to develop
and implement programs to assist individuals with limited English proficiency
to access and understand State court proceedings in which they are a
The Administrator shall allocate, for each fiscal year, $500,000 of the amount appropriated pursuant to section 4 to be used to establish a court interpreter technical assistance program to assist State courts receiving grants under this Act.
Use of grants
Grants awarded under subsection (a) may be used by State courts to—
assess regional language demands;
develop a court interpreter program for the State courts;
develop, institute, and administer language certification examinations;
recruit, train, and certify qualified court interpreters;
pay for salaries, transportation, and technology necessary to implement the court interpreter program developed under paragraph (2); and
engage in other related activities, as prescribed by the Attorney General.
The highest State court of each State desiring a grant under this section shall submit an application to the Administrator at such time, in such manner, and accompanied by such information as the Administrator may reasonably require.
The highest State court of each State submitting an application under paragraph (1) shall include in the application—
an identification of each State court in that State which would receive funds from the grant;
the amount of funds each State court identified under subparagraph (A) would receive from the grant; and
the procedures the highest State court would use to directly distribute grant funds to State courts identified under subparagraph (A).
State court allotments
From amounts appropriated for each fiscal year pursuant to section 4, the Administrator shall allocate $100,000 to each of the highest State court of each State, which has an application approved under subsection (c).
From amounts appropriated for each fiscal year pursuant to section 4, the Administrator shall allocate a total of $5,000,000 to the highest State court of States that have extraordinary needs that must be addressed in order to develop, implement, or expand a State court interpreter program.
In addition to the allocations made under paragraphs (1) and (2), the Administrator shall allocate to each of the highest State court of each State, which has an application approved under subsection (c), an amount equal to the product reached by multiplying—
the unallocated balance of the amount appropriated for each fiscal year pursuant to section 4; and
the ratio between the number of people over 5 years of age who speak a language other than English at home in the State and the number of people over 5 years of age who speak a language other than English at home in all the States that receive an allocation under paragraph (1), as those numbers are determined by the Bureau of the Census.
Authorization of appropriations
There are authorized to be appropriated $15,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2007 through 2010 to carry out this Act.