Anticrime Programs Fare Well In Huge Federal Spending Agreement


Federal spending for anticrime programs did surprisingly well in the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill unveiled last night–a package that Politico says, “promises to restore some order to government funding over the next year.” The two biggest agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice got increases–a total of $8.3 billion for the FBI, up $248.7 million from last year, and $6.77 billion for the Bureau of Prisons, up $90.2 million from last year.

House-Senate negotiators came up with the massive spending bill under pressure to reach a Jan. 15 deadline set after last fall’s federal government shutdown. Because key members of Congress of both parties have agreed to the measure, it is likely to pass within a few days and be sent to President Obama by this weekend.

Among other major items in the measure:

* The Drug Enforcement Administration gets $2.02 billion, up $9.6 million.

* The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gets $1.18 billion, up $49.6 million.

* Byrne-JAG grants for state and local anticrime programs get $376 million, $8.3 million less than last year but $11 million more than what the appropriators called the “post-sequester level,” referring to earlier-enacted mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.

* Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs get $417 million, up $9.1 million from last year.

* The COPS community oriented policing program, periodically targeted for elimination by Republicans but supported by Democrats, gets $214 million, $4 million under lst year but $4 million above the post-sequester level.

* Juvenile justice funding, which Congress has been steadily paring, is down to $255 million from $266 million last year.

* Criminal history records, a major issue in the debate over gun violence, is up considerably, from $18 million last year to $59 million this year.

* Justice reinvestment, the program to help states get a better handle on high corrections populations, gets a big increase to $28 million from $6 million. $1 million is set aside for a task force on federal corrections sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the subcommittee with oversight over Justice Department appropriations.

* The controversial SCAAP program, “state criminal alien assistance,” drops to $180 million from $242 million. The money helps states that incarcerate undocumented prisoners. Critics have long contended that the federal government should not bear this expense, but many states contend it is a federal responsibility.

Insiders give much of the credit for preserving anticrime expenditures to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who also chairs the subcommittee that controls Justice Department appropriations and is a strong proponent of federal support for criminal justice. Mikulski called the bill “truly a bipartisan agreement that a significant number of members worked day and night over the holidays.”

Read the full bill HERE.

Ted Gest is Washington Bureau Chief of The Crime Report, and president of Criminal Justice Journalists. He welcomes readers’ comments.

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