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Budget Wrongly Invests in Policing and Prisons Not Prevention and Communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2011
Contacts:
Jason Fenster – (202) 558-7974 x 306 / (202) 558-7974 (cell) / jfenster@justicepolicy.org
Zerline Hughes – (202) 558-7974 x 312 / zhughes@justicepolicy.org

Budget Wrongly Invests in Policing and Prisons Not Prevention and Communities

Justice advocates disturbed by proposed $28 billion for expensive, ineffective and unfair policies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) released a factsheet today criticizing choices made in the Obama Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2012 Department of Justice budget. The figure set at $28.2 billion increases funding for COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services), proposes an 11 percent increase from FY2010 in spending on the federal prison system and slashes funding for juvenile justice programming dedicated to providing opportunities for positive life outcomes for youth involved in the justice system.

“Crime is down and resources are scarce. If anything, now is the time to stop putting millions of our taxpayer dollars into more policing and more prisons,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI. “We have been throwing over a billion dollars in stimulus funding and federal budget expenditures into a system that has been failing us for decades. This year provided an opportunity to redirect funds toward smarter investments in proven programs, but instead this budget reflects a choice to repeat the failed policies of past administrations.”

Research included in the factsheet also shows that the present funding structure is set up to build on America’s historically high 2.4 million person prison population, passing incarcerations costs to cash-strapped states like California, Texas and New York which are focused on reducing the use of prisons and jails in favor of cost-effective, community-based services and diversion programs.

The budget mentions the need to reduce incarceration rates across the country, but an additional $116 million from FY2010’s budget for buildings and facilities indicates an effort to build more beds and to incarcerate more people. “A true vision of successful public safety strategies needs to start with ensuring front-end services and supports, not a commitment to locking more people away and dismantling families and communities,” added Velázquez. “We should spend our money on treatment programs, on job creation and on teachers, not prison beds and police helicopters.”

Some of the key findings from the factsheet include:

“This budget reflects a disappointing continuation of policies rejected by researchers and advocates and will serve to widen the net of justice involvement, doing little to improve public safety,” concluded Velázquez. “While States are seeking innovative ways to cut costs, reduce prison populations and improve the safety and health of communities, the Federal Government is showing a disappointing lack in leadership in the areas of prevention, treatment and diversion. We hope that future efforts will invest in real progress and reform to make America a safer, stronger nation.”

To read JPI’s fact sheet on the Obama Administration’s FY2012 Budget, Doing the Same Thing and Expecting Different Results, CLICK HERE. For additional information, please contact Jason Fenster at (202) 558-7974 x306 or jfenster@justicepolicy.org or Zerline Hughes at (202) 558-7974 x 312 or zhughes@justicepolicy.org.

The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) is a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to reducing society’s use of incarceration and promoting just and effective social policies. For more on JPI’s research, please visit our website at www.justicepolicy.org.

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