Already on Lean Budget, OR Law Enforcers Wary as Fiscal Cliff Nears


Law enforcers in Oregon, already frustrated by budget cuts that have led to an increase in revolving-door justice, are watching warily as the fiscal cliff approaches, reports the Associated Press. The recession and a steady reduction in federal subsidies to timber counties have led Oregon sheriffs and district attorneys to juggle deep cuts. There are fewer jail beds, sheriff’s patrols, prosecutors, parole officers and specialized investigators. Prosecutors have to toss out more than a quarter of the cases that cross their desks because there aren’t enough people to handle them. “It makes me crazy,” said Patricia Perlow, chief deputy district attorney for Lane County.

If the ongoing budget negotiations end without an agreement and automatic spending reductions kick in, it would trigger an 8 percent cut in nearly $2 billion in federal grants that go to state and local law enforcement. That would come on top of $1.5 billion cuts to federal law enforcement grants since fiscal 2010. One expert said “it would not be unreasonable to envision a day in the not too distant future when federal support for state and local law enforcement will be virtually eliminated.” As the details get worked out, the grants could take even deeper cuts, as appropriators shift funding to higher priority agencies such as the FBI. Over the next nine years of the Budget Control Act of 2011, the slashes would become deeper and deeper.

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