Remember the big deal Attorney General Eric Holder made of the Administration's increased proposed funding for Prisoner Re-Entry programs? And Holder's touting the inauguratiion of a cabinet level "Reentry Council"? And how proud Obama and Holder were of the amounts in the 2012 proposed $28.2 billion Department of Justice Budget requested for Second Chance Act and reentry programs ? The Budget provides $187 million in prisoner re-entry and jail diversion programs, including $100 million for the Second Chance Act programs and $57 million for drug, mental health, and other problem-solving courts. Would you believe that yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee zapped the funding for prisoner reentry programs entirely, saying the money was needed for the Bureau of Prisons? It actually gave BOP an increase, to $6.6 billion. [More…] Here's what the Senate Committee approved in Obama's proposed 2012 budget for Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations: 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. And, of course, more cops, prosecutions and punishment: $232 million for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, including $200 million to hire or retain roughly 1,500 police on the beat; $351 million to prevent, investigate and prosecute crimes against children; $418 million for domestic violence and sexual assault grants Separately, the Committee approved a whopping $630.6 billion for Department of Defense Appropriations for base and overseas contingency operation funding. Here's Attorney General Eric Holder testifying before the Committee in April, 2011 when the Administration proposed the Justice budget: More than 5,000 new federal inmates and 6,000 detainees are projected to be in custody in 2012, which means adequate funding for prison and detention operations is critical. The budget requests a total of $8.4 billion to maintain basic prison and detention operations. The budget request includes $224 million in prison and detention resources to maintain secure, controlled detention facilities and $461.4 million for program increases to ensure the growing numbers of offenders are confined in secure facilities. The Department is committed to strengthening current efforts to improve inmate reentry and recidivism rates, and the proposed budget includes $22 million for Second Chance Initiatives that would allow for enhanced inmate reentry programs, specifically vocational training, education, and drug treatment programs. Holder said: Reentry provides a major opportunity to reduce recidivism, save taxpayer dollars and make our communities safer….More than two million people are behind bars, and 95 percent of them will be released back into their communities. By developing effective, evidence-based reentry programs, we can improve public safety and community well-being Even though Obama and Holder's requests were minimal, they were welcome gestures, as I wrote here. (The Justice Policy Project also crunched the numbers and found the requests too small.) The Senate Appropriation's Committee rejection of these minimal funds is just shameful. Instead of increased funding for the Bureau of Prisons so it can reopen closed prisons and hire more prison guards, why not increase prisoner good time and reduce the Bureau's operational costs? Why not eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders? Stop the expanded use of wiretapping and other forms of electronic surveillance, which cost huge sums of money, and were meant to be used sparingly? Just because the technology is available, doesn't mean we have to use it in every garden variety drug case. Did Obama or Holder even register a complaint? If you'd like to, here's the list of Senators on the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee. Here's the full list of Senators on the Appropriations Committee. America, Prison Nation.
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