the Senate Appropriations Committee zapped the funding for prisoner reentry programs entirely, saying the money was needed for the Bureau of Prisons ... [but] gave BOP an increase, to $6.6 billion.
Here's what the Senate Committee approved in Obama's proposed 2012 budget for Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations:
This spending comes hot on the heels of new Bureau of Justice Statistics data showing that violent and property crime were dramatically down in 2010, even with the recession. That might not last, however, given that the current budget trades increases in spending on prisons for cuts in state and local law enforcement assistance, the FBI, and other programs that presumably make us safer. Click here to read an analysis of the BJS data that doesn't pin our increased safety on more prisons.
- Bureau of Prisons: $6.6 billion for BOP Salaries and Expenses and to activate new prisons currently sitting empty ($307 million more than 2011.)
- FBI: $7.8 billion for FBI salaries and expenses, national security and counterterrorism investigations, combating cyber threats, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) capabilities, and violent crime reduction programs..
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): $2.2 billion for the DEA to target and dismantle criminal narcotics activities. This includes $10 million for the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), which is DEA’s chief tactical intelligence sharing center on the Southwest border.
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF): $1.1 billion for ATF Salaries and Expenses, to reduce violent crime and enforce Federal firearms and explosives laws.
- U.S. Marshals Service: $1.1 billion for U.S. Marshals Service salaries and expenses, to apprehend dangerous fugitives, protect the Federal courts and the judiciary, and transport prisoners for course proceedings.
- Office of the Federal Detention Trustee: $1.56 billion
- Crime Victims Fund (CVF) – The bill permits the expenditure of $705 million from the CVF for grants to assist victims of crime. This is equal to the FY2011 enacted level.
A total of $6.6 billion for the BOP may seem like peanuts in the world of trillion-dollar federal budgeting, but it's a big deal to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which often grumps and gripes about spending more money on prisons. Back in 1982, pre-mandatory minimums, the federal prison budget was $541 million.
We've come a long way, taxpayers. How much do we have to spend on federal prisons before someone finally says we've gone too far?
The only silver lining in the budget is the Committee’s decision to call out the BOP. In its report language, the Commiittee calls on the BOP to use its
authorities through its operational discretion under 18 U.S.C section 3624 to, among other authorities, maximize the reentry time prisoners spend in residential reentry centers as well as home confinement; use its direct designation authority under 18 U.S.C. section 3621(b); expand the criteria for and use of compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(1)(A); and expand the use of the Residential Drug Abuse Program by removing barriers to full use of the program.
We'll have more coverage on federal justice budgeting next week.