by Ted Gest
A Senate-House conference committee agreed last night to save major federal criminal justice programs including COPS community policing, the Second Chance law on prisoner re-entry, and juvenile justice aid, but at lower levels than last year. Congress is expected to approve the appropriations this week. COPS and Second Chance were endangered by votes in one house or the other to eliminate them. Federal aid for state and local anticrime grants under the Byrne JAG “formula” program would be funded at $352 million, down 17 percent from last year. For many programs, the reductions reflect a trend that could get worse as Congress considers debt-reduction plans.
Under the agreement, COPS police hiring would be cut to $166 million this year, compared with $247 million last year. Second Chance funding would drop from $83 million to $63 million, and juvenile justice programs face a cut from $276 million to $263 million. The SCAAP program to subsidize states’ incarcerating alleged illegal immigrants would be retained at $240 million, down from $274 million last year.