Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Counting criminal justice cuts from the federal budget deal

Looking at the fine print of the new federal budget deal, several criminal justice items jumped out:
  • $415 million for state and local law enforcement grants (probably the Byrne grant program administered by the Governor)
  • $148 million cut from juvenile justice program grants
  • $296 million cut from the COPS program that pays for local agencies to hire officers without paying for them for the first three years.
  • $133 million in construction projects by the FBI.
  • $120 million cut from "Justice Information Sharing Technology"*
  • $106 million cut for "Tactical Law Enforcement Wireless Communication"
  • $15 million cut from the Washington, D.C. Forensics Lab
  • $10 million cut from the National Drug Intelligence Center
*All figures represent reductions from FY 2010 levels except spending for "Justice Information Sharing Technology," most of which was scheduled to be spent in FY 2011.
These are cuts in the current fiscal year, meaning grants and other federal law enforcement funds previously thought to be available may now be thrown into question. Presumably all these cuts came from the Republican side of the aisle, since they were the ones pushing for reductions. Ever since Texas abolished its system of Tulia-style drug task forces, Byrne grants through the Goveror's office have made up a significant portion of Texas' extra border security funds over the years, and the juvenile justice and COPS reductions will also affect Texas locals in the jurisdictions where cities or counties have received those grants. Also, though it's a relatively small cut, given all the craziness involving Mexican drug cartels it surprises me to see $10 million slashed from the National Drug Intelligence Center. Interesting list.

    6 comments:

    Angee said...

    3 thoughts--The threat was to take 10% of Byrne Grant Funding for failure to implement the Adan Walsh Act. It looks as though the Feds are taking a lot more than that.
    President Gorge Bush considered doing away with Byrne Grant Funding because the crime rate was sown and he felt that was accomplished without the help of the grants. This may be an old idea that has been brought back out.
    How can states set up a budget until the Feds get finished with such massive cuts?

    Woodsy said...

    Using money just because the federal government provides it is wasteful spending, especially when it is not needed. Parole officials unnecessarily place offenders on electronic monitoring simply because federal money pays for it. Likewise, the COPS program hires additional law enforcement officers and pays their salaries for three years..., but do we need more cops on the street? This country--and the State of Texas is the most extreme example--is becoming an Orwellian state. Next thing ya know we are all gonna have GPS monitors hooked up to our automobiles (oops, they already have that). And to think that it is "conservatives" who support these measures to "protect us all." Madison is rolling over in his grave.

    Gritsforbreakfast said...

    To be fair, Woodsy, in this case it was conservatives cutting those programs. For that matter, COPS, Byrne grants, etc., are for the most part all Democratic-created pork. COPS was a Clinton creation, and Byrne grants came from John Kerry, Joe Biden and Tom Harkin in the '80s. As Angee said, Bush II actually wanted to eliminate Byrne grants entirely, and both our Texas senators have voted in past budget debates to do so.

    Given stereotypes about who's tuff or soft on crime, it's kind of a Through-the-Looking-Glass moment when you start to pay attention to the partisan breakdown of who supports all this law enforcement pork in Congress. Pretty consistently the Dems created or supported most of it and the only people out there criticizing it are budget cutting conservatives.

    Woodsy said...

    Yes, I do remember Clinton's pledge for 100,000 more cops on the streets. Then again, this was a time when crime was at a 30-year high, with gangs threatening the streets of our inner-cities.

    Notice, I didn't even mention a political party in my post (i.e., "conservatism," to me, does not mean Republicanism, no more than I think Democrats have a monopoly on liberalism). I am a true conservative myself, and I think that the most-conservative President we have had on the last 30 years was Bill Clinton--a Democrat. My evidence: The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, and hesitancy to use military force (which costs more money than anything else) to resolve every conflict throughout the world, among other examples.

    In Texas, almost all politicians either overtly claim "conservative" principles, or they pretend to. It was George W. Bush who, after being elected, shelved Ann Richards' idea to implement an expansive treatment program in Texas prisons. If you will remember, as those facilities were beginning to open, they were instead remodeled to be capable of holding maximum-security prisoners. The Department sent a $100 million bill to the Lege to build additional fences around those facilities. It took the Lege more than seven years post-Bush to realize that was a mistake, with the 80th Legislature deciding to expand treatment programs (at an additional cost, of course). Under Bush, the TDCJ became the largest department in the state in terms of the number of employees it has and in terms of its budget. A lot of "conservatives" in Texas are too stupid to realize that, when your prison system is the largest state department it is a sign of failure.

    Legislators who represent the uneducated rednecks in Podunctville, Texas, themselves claiming to be "fiscal conservatives" would just as soon return to the brick and mortar policies of the Bush era, as it would guarantee them a place to work (considering most are too dumb to work anywhere else where they could earn more than minimum wage). This is VERY costly, and definitely NOT a truly conservative ideology. There's a difference between conservatism and stupidity.

    Notwithstanding my comments, above, I do acknowledge your point(s), and I am oftentimes guilty of stereotyping. One problem I see in this country is that cops almost always get a free ride. Their union contracts guarantee raises and equal pay commensurate with other agencies (e.g.,firemen), and support for the police is across the board,regardless of [party affiliation.

    Anonymous said...

    Hey Grits I need a little help here. What happened to the Federal Youthful offender act. I was told yesterday that after the summer semister there will be no more college classes offered at a TDCJ unit. Is this just this unit or TDCJ as a whole? I ask because I thought the Federal youthful offender act was not costing Texas anything. I am not going to say what unit but I bet you can guess it. Any help would be appreciated.

    Sheldon tyc#47333 said...

    Woodsy, I can read your stuff all day long. I saw where you wrote that you have forgotten more about criminal justice than most of the people in criminal justice. However, I think that could be said about 170k people locked down now by those plantation hillbillies. If it’s a war on the citizens of Texas you sound like you have the ammo to fight the good fight. Just beware of the tools who get paid less than I pay my maid, they love to violate people, technically.