Justice Budget Backs ‘Strong Science’, Revives Programs Weakened Under Trump

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Justice Department

Department of Justice. Photo by Matt via Flickr

President Joe Biden’s 2022 fiscal year Department of Justice budget request includes a proposed $265 million increase for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), a program that Donald Trump wanted to eliminate.

COPS, whose mission is to advance “the practice of community policing by the nation’s state and local law enforcement agencies through information-sharing and grant resources,” is one of the justice programs designated to receive a new breath of life after being left to wither under the previous administration, DOJ officials told a webinar Thursday.

The officials said the department’s focus under the new administration will be on advancing crime research that can be used to develop effective programs and strategies.

“I firmly believe that sound strategies rest on strong science,” acting assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon said.

The DOJ budget request includes $41 million for the National Institute of Justice and $45 million for the Bureau of Justice Statistics ―two agencies that have suffered from lack of support in recent years.

The Trump administration planned to eliminate COPS and transfer its functions to other parts of the department in its 2021 fiscal year budget. But it was underlined as a “priority” investment in Biden’s campaign-platform Plan for Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice and followed through on that plan in his budget.

If the new budget is approved by Congress, COPS will receive a total of $651 million.

The Biden Administration is also looking to nearly double the budget for the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) compared to the previous year, in which Trump sought to decrease the budget for the office by $4 million.

The figures were presented at an online news briefing in which the budgets for Office on Violence Against Women, COPS, and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) were broken down.

The proposed overall budget for the Department of Justice totaled $35.3 billion, a $1.9 billion increase from the previous year and the largest DOJ budget increase in eight years.

DOJ Controller Jolene Lauria estimated there are about 37 new programs included in the budget and nearly all existing programs have increased funding.

“This fiscal year we are prioritizing building trust and legitimacy and combating hate and domestic extremism,” COPS acting Director Robert Chapman told the webinar.

cops

Photo courtesy COPS office

COPS requested $537 million for a beefed-up hiring program that is “designed to provide funding directly to law enforcement agencies to hire and/or rehire additional career law enforcement officers in an effort to increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts, all while building trust and legitimacy between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

COPS also requested $20 million for a collaborative reform program, which did not receive direct appropriation last year, that will offer more intensive forms of technical assistance to law enforcement.

Finally, COPS requested $53 million for the School Violence Prevention Program, which aims to provide funding for safety measures in school, including:

      • Coordination with law enforcement;
      • Metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrent measures; and
      • Technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency

Other COPS grant program requests include $35 million for Community Policing Development, $8 million for the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act Program, $50 million for state-level drug task force programs and $46 million for the Tribal Resources Grant Program.

Women Victims of Violence

 The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) requested $1 billion as its budget total which marks an almost half billion dollars increase from the previous year’s budget. The budget includes $101.4 million in funding for programs in Indian Country.

OVWThis marks a significant change from Trump’s 2021 budget which sought to decrease funding to OVW by $4 million.

Nadine Neufville, acting Director of OVW, outlined the priorities guiding the budget request, including:

      • Supporting projects that meaningfully address the needs of underserved and marginalized survivors;
      • Improving access to justice;
      • Enhancing survivor safety; and
      • Building a coordinated community response to violence against women.

The budget proposal includes $400 million for Grants to Combat Violence Against Women (STOP), as well as $80 million towards transitional housing, one of the most requested services for survivors, according to Neufville.

“The president’s budget request enhances funding in existing programs and supports new emerging programs,” Neufville said.

“It builds upon what we know works to ensure we continue to explore alternative solutions that recognize the unique experiences of our diverse nation.”

The budget includes $100 million for sexual assault services, a $59 million increase from the previous year. Neufville said sexual assault services are some of the least funded services across the nation and that she believes more people will need coming out of the pandemic.

The budget also includes requests for 11 new programs, including $25 million for restorative justice, $10 million for deaf services and $2 million allocated toward supporting transgender victims of violence.

Office of Justice Programs

 The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) proposed a $5.8 billion budget, including $2.97 billion toward discretionary programs and $2.85 billion in mandatory programs.

The budget priorities of OJP include:

      • Promoting criminal and juvenile system reform and enhance civil rights;
      • Preventing and reducing gun violence;
      • Combatting sexual assault;
      • Supporting effective reentry; and
      • Supporting victims of crime.

The discretionary requests in the budget proposal include $2.05 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance, $798 million toward juvenile justice programs, $86 million for research and evaluation, as well as $34.8 million for public safety officers’ benefits (disability and education assistance).

The science budget will increase  to $143m “once the 2 percent set aside is taken into account,” Solomon added.

The proposal includes $798 million toward juvenile justice programs, a $450 million increase from the previous year. The proposal seeks $100 million for a new program focused on community-based alternatives to youth incarceration, as well as $250 million toward Part B: Formula Grants.

The proposed grant for the National Institute of Justice will also include $10 million for research on domestic radicalization.

A new program aimed at training law enforcement officers on racial profiling, de-escalation and the duty to intervene is proposed to receive $20 million, as part of a $513.5 million proposal for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG).

The mandatory requests include $2.65 billion toward the Crime Victims Fund, $192 million for public safety officers’ benefits (death) and $6 million toward the Domestic Victims of Trafficking Fund.

Blake Diaz is a TCR Justice Reporting Intern.

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