The Bush administration’s proposed budget cuts for criminal justice programs are sharper than those sought during the president’s first term. More than $1.3 billion of last year’s $3 billion for “justice assistance” would be eliminated, says the National Criminal Justice Association, which represents states. The budget did include a few increases, such as for DNA testing and crime lab improvement, gun prosecution assistance and Project Safe Neighborhoods, drug courts, the national criminal history improvement program, and state prisoner drug treatment. The Los Angeles Times says about $150 million is proposed for programs aimed at treating drug addicts, keeping at-risk boys from joining gangs, and the mentoring of prisoners’ children and newly released prisoners. Much of this money would be directed to faith-based groups. In proposing to cut the Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS), the administration is not convinced that it has cut crime, says the Washington Post. The Office of Violence Against Women’s budget of $383 million would be cut by $19 million. Spending for the FBI would grow by $556 million, or 10 percent, to finance the hiring of 500 intelligence analysts for the war on terror, boost the number of FBI translators and improve the “watchlisting” of terrorist suspects. The Drug Enforcement Administration would get an extra $63 million, or 3.8 percent.
Law enforcement interests were unhappy. “This administration talks about homeland security but then guts funding for the very programs that help secure our homeland,” said Joseph Estey, Chief of the Hartford, Vt., Police Department and President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “This budget cuts funding for critical law enforcement assistance programs by 90 percent, forcing many departments to continue using antiquated and inefficient communications equipment and others to lay off officers.” Lobbying by the police and other interests will succeed in having Congress restore some of the money targeted for cuts. In an area of huge budget deficits, it is not clear how extensive the ultimate reductions will be.