Federal Drug War Funding Takes a Hit

Excellent news...Congress cut funding for Byrne Grants and local cops say the war on drugs will suffer.

Congress in January cut funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant by two-thirds, from $520 million to $170 million for fiscal 2008. Local agencies say that's a threat to the officers who do much of the law enforcement spadework.

One of the results of Byrne Grants: Tulia, Texas.

Best-known is a case in Tulia, Texas, where a 1999 Byrne-funded investigation led to the cocaine arrests of 46 people, most of them black, on evidence so flimsy that 38 were pardoned by Gov. Rick Perry in 2003. The undercover agent responsible for the arrests was convicted of perjury and the defendants got a $5 million settlement from the state.

The Texas ACLU has identified more than a dozen other Byrne-funded operations it says were abusive and several other states have investigated similar complaints. Texas has imposed strict limits on Byrne-funded drug task forces.

The meth busters are upset. They probably don't need to worry, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will help them out. They support Byrne Grants. Here's record on anti-meth bills. Of course, the problem with these meth bills is they end up increasing the supply from Mexico. [More...]

[Iowa Sheriff] Kendall said Iowa's problem is methamphetamine, which now comes mostly from Mexico since Iowa tightened access to over-the-counter medications that contain ingredients used in home meth labs.

Here's more on Obama's misguided support of Byrne Grants for the war on drugs. [Added: Hillary Clinton supports Byrne Grants and anti-meth bills as well.]

From Thomas, it looks like the bill is H.R. 2764, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate) Under the paragraph "STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ASSISTANCE":

(1) $170,433,000 for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program as authorized by subpart 1 of part E of title I of the 1968 Act, (except that section 1001(c), and the special rules for Puerto Rico under section 505(g), of the 1968 Act, shall not apply for purposes of this Act), of which $2,000,000 is for use by the National Institute of Justice in assisting units of local government to identify, select, develop, modernize, and purchase new technologies for use by law enforcement and $2,000,000 is for a program to improve State and local law enforcement intelligence capabilities including antiterrorism training and training to ensure that constitutional rights, civil liberties, civil rights, and privacy interests are protected throughout the intelligence process;

Read the whole section though, it's amazing how much money the feds are throwing into the war on crime and drugs, and how much less for drug courts, treatment, programs to stop prison rape, etc. Even Bush acknowledged (see the linked news article above)"the [Byrne Grant]program should end because crime is down and the money is needed elsewhere."

The bill was a huge funding bill covering many issues besides crime-fighting. It looks like neither Hillary nor Obama were present for the final vote on it.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee had the right idea. She introduced H.R. 253 in January, 2007, the "No More Tulias: Drug Law Enforcement Evidentiary Standards Improvement Act of 2007" to "increase the evidentiary standard required to convict a person for a drug offense, to require screening of law enforcement officers or others acting under color of law participating in drug task forces."

In addition to limiting Byrne Grants, it provided:

at a minimum, no State that fails to prohibit criminal convictions based solely on the testimony of a law enforcement officer or informants should receive a grant under such program; and (3) corroborative evidence, such as video or audio tapes, drugs, and money, should always be required for such criminal convictions to be sustained.

Unfortunately, it only got three co-sponsors in the House and didn't go anywhere.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Lost me there. Meth cooking in (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:37:26 PM EST
    Iowa, if suppressed, probably gives the Mexican meth stream a better market.  But DEA/local law enforcement attempts to apprehend meth dealers, transporters, distributers, and sellers surely doesn't increase meth trafficing from Mexico.

    Only if effective... (none / 0) (#16)
    by rhbrandon on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:38:12 PM EST
    It's one more problem with globalization and the relaxing of trucking security at the US/Mexico border.  

    Suppressing local manufacturing doesn't make the market for the drug go away. Most local meth was made for local consumption by the user and friends. The Mexican stuff is much better, and Mexican organized crime is much better at getting their stuff in country.

    All of the usual "tough on crime" drug measures coming out of Congress with the approval of not just Obama, but nearly every other Democrat afraid to be accused on being soft on crime, do nothing to address local addiction.  They wind up further federalizing drug crime without any real effect and wind up giving the users the felony records instead of those distributing the stuff.


    right (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jgarza on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:41:44 PM EST
    The meth busters are upset. They probably don't need to worry, Barack Obama will help them out. He supports Byrne Grants. Check his record on anti-meth bills. Of course, the problem with these meth bills is they end up increasing the supply from Mexico

    So Hillary is opposed to these bills?

    No and I've added that to the post in two places (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:34:46 PM EST
    She voted for the anti-meth bills and byrne grants too.

    Thank you (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jgarza on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 04:42:15 PM EST
    This is why you are my favorite blog, even when you post things I don't agree with.

    But but but (none / 0) (#4)
    by myed2x on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:50:59 PM EST
    "Of course, the problem with these meth bills is they end up increasing the supply from Mexico. "

    Don't worry the security fence will stop that! lol.

    local cops say the war on drugs will suffer. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Capt Howdy on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:58:01 PM EST
    I have three cops in my family.
    what they mean is their ability to confiscate the property of anyone caught with a joint to fund their departments will suffer.
    and when I say fund their departments I mean buy toys.

    like he did. (none / 0) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:59:38 PM EST
    it seems more and more like Obama and Harrold Ford were separated a birth

    Is HIllary (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jgarza on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:19:59 PM EST
    against these Bills?  
    Clinton rules: If Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both have the same position that progressives don't like, it is worse for him because he is a good public speaker.

    No she co-sponsored the anti-meth bill too (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:29:49 PM EST
    and supports Byrne grants, but you have to really scour the web to find her support.

    I've added that to the post (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:35:35 PM EST
    now stop chattering.

    S 231 Byrne Reauthorisation through 2012 (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:25:24 PM EST
    Passed the Senate unanimously, May 24, now sitting in House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

    Previously, the Byrne grants have been reauthorised year by year.

    Last May I asked Representative Baldwin to try and limit the re-authorization to a year, or at worst 2. Come june, heard back from her that she'd been unable to find support on the Committee. Pleasantly surprised, looking today, that the 5 year re-authorisation hasn't moved.

    Tangential anecdote: Tammy told me the Sheriff of Rock County had also asked her to limit the Byrne Grants. The Feds have grouped his County with Winnebago county, Illinois in the State Line Area Narcotics Task Force, and put one of the Illinois guys in charge. They'd run a checkpoint sting on the Wisconsin segment of the Interstate, without bothering to inform the Sheriff. Such checkpoints had been previously found illegal under Wisconsin law, tho not precedent-setting, as there wasa no appeal.

    This is an important topic. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:26:23 PM EST
    Is it necessary to spin it into the Primary dynamic?

    yes (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:37:45 PM EST
    it's important to state where our candidates stand on the issue.

    For example, when they promise to scale back mandatory minimums, will it apply to meth defendants or just non-violent, first-time possessors of small quantities of other drugs? I want to know.


    where our candidates stand on the issue (none / 0) (#17)
    by Capt Howdy on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:43:01 PM EST
    Hillary has vowed to stop the raids in California.

    both candidates have said they would (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 04:09:26 PM EST
    end federal raids on medical marijuana suppliers. That's not quite the same issue as this.

    Less valuable than (none / 0) (#20)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 04:15:15 PM EST
    using your soapbox to mobilize in the present Congress.

    stop the raids in California. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Capt Howdy on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:44:55 PM EST
    let me jsut add I have no link for this but I lived in LA until November and actually had a script.
    I was told that by a pharmacist there.

    best news I've heard today (none / 0) (#21)
    by sef on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 04:24:50 PM EST
    The Byrne grants can be great things (I know of public defender slots that were once funded with these funds), however, they have devolved in to a practice of arming paramilitary forces and the like with the biggest baddest equipment money can buy.  

    domestic meth labs (none / 0) (#23)
    by diogenes on Sun Feb 24, 2008 at 09:24:37 PM EST
    Meth labs run by amateurs in this country explode and create massive toxic waste conditions.  If meth were legal we would ban its being manufactured in such settings.  If you all want legal meth then let the US drug countries make and market it.