The first pass at Congressional appropriations for the Justice Department for the year starting October 1 are out, as the House committee handling the department’s money had its “markup” session yesterday. Some highlights (in round numbers): The FBI would go from about $7.9 billion to 8.2 billion, the federal prison system from $6.1 to 6.8 billion, and the Office of Justice Programs, which gives grants to states and localities and supports research and statistics programs, would rise from $2.3 billion to 2.8 billion. The COPS office would fall from $791 million to $729 million. Law enforcement and prosecution in Indian country would increase by $117 million to $342 million.
Committee chairman Alan Mollohan (D-WVA) said the prison budget would include addressing a “critical shortage” in staffing, re-entry programs and opening new prisons to deal with overcrowding. All of the figures in the bill are subject to change as the Senate considers its own version of the bill, but the House committee’s proposal indicates where Congress may be headed. The amount of money available for the Justice Department is affected by the budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is in the same appropriations bill and which would rise from about $18.7 billion to $19 billion in the committee’s plan.