Clinton Budget Proposes Billions for Prison Construction; Slashes Local Enforcement Block Grant
Rigsby, Deborah, Nation's Cities Weekly
As part of the Administration's budget for Fiscal Year 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice has requested a total of $23.35 billion to continue to address gun violence, community law enforcement efforts, drug control, cybercrime, and prison construction. This budget request is an increase of $1.83 billion over FY 2000 with a major portion ($2.4 billion) directed to funding new prisons to incarcerate felons. Upon releasing the Department of Justice's proposed budget, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno cited lower crime rates "for every type of crime," more police officers, and heightened gun control efforts as part of the Department's investment in anti-crime initiatives with state and local partnerships for law enforcement.
While more money is targeted towards community policing programs, the Administration proposes to eliminate the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) for the sixth consecutive time in addition to discontinuing the Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant (JAIBG) -- two programs supported by the National League of Cities. Instead of funding for LLEBG, the Administration has slated $616.4 million for "expanding community law enforcement" for community policing initiatives, crime prevention programs, and public safety technology. Most of the $616.4 million is targeted towards the President's 21st Century Policing Initiative that would extend the COPS program for five years and fund a number of other activities, including programs to help local communities buy the latest anticrime technology.
As the only directly funded, multi-use program aimed at local prevention and non-hiring law enforcement needs, the LLEBG is of critical importance to cities and towns. Beyond the issues of direct funding and local flexibility, the LLEBG has provided cities and towns across the country with valuable support for city-specific prevention efforts--rather than a one-size-fits-all approach--especially those aimed at youth crime and violence. It has also provided support for technology, equipment, and training. The elimination of the LLEBG will mean substantial reductions to many cities' public safety budgets.
The Administration's proposed budget eliminates the juvenile justice block grant, which was funded at $250 million in the last two fiscal years. Instead of the juvenile justice block grant, funding would be allocated through community law enforcement programs, gun control initiatives, and substance abuse treatment programs.
Specifically, the President's FY 2001 budget, as outlined by the Department of Justice, calls for the following allocations to assist local crime prevention and law enforcement efforts:
Combating Gun Violence
* $150 million to hire or re-deploy up to 1,000 community prosecutors in regions designated by the Justice Department as "High Gun Violence Areas;"
* $11. …