Washington never has spent much money funding basic research on what causes crime and what can be done about it. If a Senate subcommittee has its way, funding for criminological studies could be cut virtually to nothing.
Under a plan approved last week, federal funding for the National Institute of Justice, the Justice Department’s research arm, would be “earmarked” mostly for technology programs and for other projects like the McGruff the Crime Dog crime prevention campaign in the year beginning October 1.
The Senate Appropriations panel with control of Justice Department spending did not articulate a reason for the cut other than generally tight federal budgets. The proposal still must go to the full Senate and to a conference committee with the House, which recommended a $59 million appropriation for the agency.
“It’s quite distressing,” said Howard Silver of the Consortium of Social Science Associations, which advocates more government-funded research on social science issues. The consorium called on the conference committee to restore funding both for the research program and the federal crime statistics agency, which would take a cut from $32 million to $25 million under the Senate panel’s plan.