Juvenile Justice Programs Face Sharp New Cuts in Federal $$

Federal funding for state juvenile justice programs, already waning in recent years, could take another big hit under a proposal this week from the House appropriations subcommittee that funds the Justice Department. On Wednesday, the panel proposed to slash federal spending from $266 million to $196 million annually for the year starting October 1. The subcommittee wants to zero out a major crime prevention funding program, as well as one called the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants, which support state efforts to establish “graduated sanctions” for juvenile delinquents. Those grants were advocated by congressional Republicans in the 1990s. The spending committee is currently headed by a Republican, Frank Wolf of Virginia.

Obama’s Anticrime Spending Hike: Will Congress Agree?

Federal anti-crime aid is surviving calls for spending cuts in Washington, at least in President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2014. The plan issued last week included a surprisingly large number of increases in a variety of Justice Department programs. The administration seems to be betting on the notion that a cautious Congress will go for crime-fighting ideas that are backed by scientific evidence. Previous Obama budgets endorsed evidence-based programs, but this is the first time that the Justice Department specifically has tied funding to the idea. For example, the budget includes a new $40 million annual program for states and localities “to implement proven public safety strategies.” It also includes $25 million for what the budget calls projects of “evidence-based, data-driven justice system realignment” that replaces costly programs with less costly alternatives.

Dealing with Police-Community Conflict

Bernard Melekian was police chief of Pasadena, CA when he was chosen by President Barack Obama in 2009 to become director of the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS). COPS was created during the administration of President Bill Clinton to oversee the hiring of 100,000 community policing officers around the U.S. under the 1994 federal anticrime law. Before he left office last week to return to his home in California, he spoke to The Crime Report's Washington Bureau Chief, Ted Gest about the model his office developed to encourage police departments to reform their practices, about how strained law enforcement budgets can drive change, and on the need for gun regulation in the aftermath of Newtown. The Crime Report: Your agency probably is best known for providing funds to help law enforcement agencies around the U.S. hire 100,000 community police officers in the 1990s. How would you describe the current role of the COPS Office?