Sunday, October 14, 2012

Criminal justice agencies report 43% drop in federal funding

A new report from the National Criminal Justice Association and the Vera Institute of Justice, based on a national survey of government and private organizations, found that U.S. Department of Justice funding to criminal justice agencies and nonprofit service providers has dropped by 43 per cent in the last two years under the impact of the recession, reported Ted Gest on The Crime Report.

The survey's sponsors don't contend that the survey is scientifically representative, there were 714 responses, but it illustrates funding issues being experienced on a state and local level.

About 14 per cent of the respondents said the amounts of their grants had been cut by more than half.

The report was issued in advance of a debate expected in Washington after the November elections over a process known as "sequestration," which will occur under a 2011 federal law unless Congress can agree on a comprehensive deficit reduction plan.

If sequestration goes into effect next year, which is considered likely, all domestic federal discretionary spending--including for criminal justice purposes--will be cut by 8.2 percent at first. Further reductions are required through fiscal year 2021.

A Pennsylvania agency responding to the survey said that government budget cuts for various services push them "by default onto local police, further stressing police resources." Funding for a drug task force was reduced, shutting down investigations for two months. "This permitted open drug sales to increase, increased retail thefts, burglary and other thefts, all impacting police operations," the agency says.

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