As the federal government faces big budget cuts, Justice Department officials are considering whether to shorten some federal prison terms and have shut down a program that successfully encouraged fugitive criminals to turn themselves in, reports the Wall Street Journal. On Tuesday, President Obama called for a five-year freeze on non-security, discretionary government spending. Some existing programs will have to go.
Office of Management and Budget proposals for the Justice Department include increasing the amount of time deducted from prison terms for good behavior, which would qualify 4,000 convicts for release now, and another 4,000 over the next 10 years, eliminating the FBI National Gang Intelligence Center, for a savings of $8 million in the next budget year, sharing fewer proceeds from property confiscated from criminals with state and local authorities, and eliminating other funding to local police departments for some operations. The change would reduce spending by $120 million. The U.S. Marshals Service has shelved the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program, which has cleared the books on thousands of low-level criminal cases in the past six years. Law enforcement officials urged fugitives to turn themselves in to resolve old warrants and often drew hundreds in a single day.