More money for antiterrorism projects, less for policing and juvenile-crime prevention. Those priorities were evident in the federal budget request that President Bush sent to Congress this week for the year starting October 1.
Counterterrorism and counterintelligence were big winners in the Justice Department budget proposal, with $371 million additional sought for next year. Department staffing on the two issues would be 1,263, more than double the number of counterterrorism agents since Sept. 11, 2001. “Our goal is zero terrorist attacks,” says the department. Justice put its total counterterrorism/national security resources at $3.5 billion if the new budget is enacted as proposed–up from a little over $1 billion in fiscal year 2001.
The emphasis on preventing terror attacks comes at a time when anticrime programs are being cut. An analysis by the National Criminal Justice Association, which represents state governments, concludes that the administration would reduce the total of federal aid to states and localities for anticrime programs by about one third, almost $1 billion. Police hiring grants under the COPS program begun by the Clinton administration would be eliminated; Congress refused to go along with a similar proposal last year.
In the juvenile justice arena, the group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids says that on a day when a Washington, D.C., high school student was shot to death, the White House called for slashing juvenile justice and delinquency programs by mroe than 40 percent, from $308 million to $180 million. The group complains that Bush would kill a “juvenile accountability block grant” that “supports a cost-effective program shown to reduce rates of re-arrests of juveniles by up to 70 percent.”
In its budget summaries, the administration does not focus on the cuts but rather on proposed increases for next year. These include $15 million for Justice’s share of Bush’s new $300 million, four-year prisoner re-entry program,$76 million to restore a residential substance abuse program that was killed by Congress, $70 million for the drug courts started in the Clinton administration, and $14.5 million for dealing with Internet crimes against children.
Counterterrorism projects are included in the state and local pot. Among them: nearly $15 million for regional information sharing (RISS), $11 million for anti-terrorism training, $7 million for counterterrorism research and development, and $16 million for a USA Freedom Corps that would combine Neighborhood Watch and Volunteers in Police Service. Neighborhood Watch would provide local residents information “that enables them to recognize signs of potential terrorist activities.”