KOHL LEADS EFFORT TO RESTORE $1 BILLION IN CRIME-FIGHTING FUNDING IN SENATE BUDGET
Kohl's amendment would boost Juvenile Justice, COPS, anti-drug efforts
U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution to restore $1 billion in federal funding for a number of successful Department of Justice crime-fighting programs that are cut under the President's budget proposal. Kohl's initiative would add $173 million to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), $500 million to the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program, $200 million to the COPS program, and $127 million to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. Kohl is working to increase funding for these programs as part of the Senate fiscal year 2006 Budget Resolution, which the Senate is debating this week. Kohl is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Corrections and Victims Rights and has been a strong supporter of these programs.
"The downward spiral of juvenile justice and local law enforcement funding is a disturbing budget trend with ugly real world implications. As a result of the Byrne, COPS, Juvenile Justice, and HIDTA programs, we have enjoyed steadily decreasing crime rates for the past decade. But, if we do not, at a minimum, maintain funding for crime fighting, we cannot be surprised if crime again infests our cities, communities, and neighborhoods," Kohl said.
The President's reduced budget for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention would result in the elimination of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program (JABG) and the slashing of the Title V Delinquency Prevention Program. JABG provides funding for intervention programs that address the urgent needs of juveniles who have had run-ins with the law. The JABG program has had success in reducing juvenile crime. In Wisconsin, for instance, the Southern Oaks Girls School, a juvenile detention center outside of Racine, built a new mental health wing to provide much-needed counseling services for the girl inmates. The Administrator of this school cites a 56 drop in violent behavior since the new mental services have been offered. Title V is the only federal program solely dedicated to juvenile crime prevention.
The President's budget proposal would also provide no funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program, which pays for state and local drug task forces, community crime prevention programs, substance abuse treatment programs, prosecution initiatives, and many other local crime control programs.
"Talk to any police chief or sheriff back in Wisconsin and they will tell you that the Byrne program is the backbone of federal aid for local law enforcement," Kohl said. "Do we really want to walk away from a program with more than 30 years of success supporting our local police chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys?"
The COPS program would also be drastically cut under the Administration's budget. Under the President's proposal, popular initiatives like the COPS Universal Hiring Program and the COPS Technology Grants Program would be eliminated. In just the last two years alone, 38 law enforcement officers were added in Wisconsin through the COPS program and more than $113 has been awarded to Wisconsin since the program begin in 1993.
"Almost three years ago, I asked Attorney General Ashcroft him why the COPS program was being cut. He answered that that the COPS program was a 'good thing,' that it 'worked very well' and that it had been one of the 'most successful programs' we have ever had. The Senate should heed our former Attorney General's words and restore funding for COPS in our budget," Kohl said.
Finally, Kohl would increase funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The HIDTA program is a vital collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement to combat drug trafficking through intelligence-gathering and cooperation. This proposed cut in the overall HIDTA program would threaten the future of smaller HIDTAs like a program in Milwaukee that has been extremely successful in stemming crime.