Prospects remain good for several billion dollars in federal spending on criminal justice in the economic stimulus bill pending in Congress. The House bill, approved last night, includes $3 billion for justice assistance grants over two years, and $1 billion for the COPS hiring program. The Senate bill, approved by the appropriations committee, includes $1.5 billion for justice assistance grants over two years, $1 billion for COPS hiring, and smaller amounts for items involving crime victims and tribal law enorcement, and others. The Senate version says that funding must be planned within 60 days. The National Criminal Justice Association, which represents states and localities, says that an estimate 75 percent of the justice assistance grant projects would go to personnel–the main purpose of the stimulus bill.
As an example of how some of the money might be spent, the Memphis Commercial Appeal quoted Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) as saying that if the matching funds requirement for the community oriented policing program is suspended for two years, as has been proposed, Memphis will be able to hire more police officers. “The big thing about this is the jobs it creates,” he said. Hring more cops on the streets has been a priority of “(Mayor Willie) Herenton's and a priority of mine, and it will put people to work and help the crime problem.”