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S. 2497 (109th): State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act

The text of the bill below is as of Apr 3, 2006 (Introduced).


II

109th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2497

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 3, 2006

(for himself, Mr. Kennedy, and Mr. Durbin) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

A BILL

To authorize the Attorney General to award grants to State courts to develop and implement State courts interpreter programs.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act.

2.

Findings

Congress finds that—

(1)

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;

(2)

19 percent of the population of the United States over 5 years of age speaks a language other than English at home;

(3)

only qualified court interpreters can ensure that persons with limited English proficiency comprehend judicial proceedings in which they are a party;

(4)

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;

(5)

the Federal Government has demonstrated its commitment to equal administration of justice regardless of English proficiency;

(6)

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;

(7)

34 States have developed, or are developing, court interpreting programs;

(8)

robust, effective court interpreter programs—

(A)

actively recruit skilled individuals to be court interpreters;

(B)

train those individuals in the interpretation of court proceedings;

(C)

develop and use a thorough, systematic certification process for court interpreters; and

(D)

have sufficient funding to ensure that a qualified interpreter will be available to the court whenever necessary; and

(9)

Federal funding is necessary to—

(A)

encourage State courts that do not have court interpreter programs to develop them;

(B)

assist State courts with nascent court interpreter programs to implement them;

(C)

assist State courts with limited court interpreter programs to enhance them; and

(D)

assist State courts with robust court interpreter programs to make further improvements and share successful programs with other States.

3.

State court interpreter program

(a)

Grants authorized

(1)

In general

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 party.

(2)

Technical assistance

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.

(b)

Use of grants

Grants awarded under subsection (a) may be used by State courts to—

(1)

assess regional language demands;

(2)

develop a court interpreter program for the State courts;

(3)

develop, institute, and administer language certification examinations;

(4)

recruit, train, and certify qualified court interpreters;

(5)

pay for salaries, transportation, and technology necessary to implement the court interpreter program developed under paragraph (2); and

(6)

engage in other related activities, as prescribed by the Attorney General.

(c)

Application

(1)

In 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.

(2)

State courts

The highest State court of each State submitting an application under paragraph (1) shall include in the application—

(A)

an identification of each State court in that State which would receive funds from the grant;

(B)

the amount of funds each State court identified under subparagraph (A) would receive from the grant; and

(C)

the procedures the highest State court would use to directly distribute grant funds to State courts identified under subparagraph (A).

(d)

State court allotments

(1)

Base allotment

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).

(2)

Discretionary allotment

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.

(3)

Additional allotment

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—

(A)

the unallocated balance of the amount appropriated for each fiscal year pursuant to section 4; and

(B)

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.

4.

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.