Senate Approp. Comm. Eliminates Funding for Prisoner Reentry , Increases BOP Funds

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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  • Display: Sort:
    Watch what they do (5.00 / 0) (#1)
    by sj on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 09:21:42 AM EST
    not what they say.

    So shameful.  But not the first, and likely not the last.

    Perfect, Jobs for a Society that Can't Afford... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 10:31:36 AM EST

    Kids who once thought college was an option can now take heed in knowing we are creating tons of prison guard and cop jobs for them.  We need more people putting more of us in prison, freedom is so 18th century.

    Pretty soon the nation will be one big Stanford Experiment, half the population in jail and the other half policing them.  With the observers being the filthy rich watching and laughing all the way to hell with the ginormous Private Prison mulla.

    This should answer any questions Obama has about his jobs bill, Congress doesn't give an F about his rhetoric.

    "one big Stanford experiment" (none / 0) (#17)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 08:48:24 PM EST
    - my nomination for best line of the day.

    Believe it... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 11:36:08 AM EST
    When the man cries poverty, any program that might actually do some good is gonna get chopped, gotta fund that dirty.

    Just go break a law: (none / 0) (#4)
    by the capstan on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 12:07:39 PM EST
    I am!  (Refusing to allow my retarded daughter to be forced to take the new osteoporosis injectible drug that comes covered with warning labels.)

    Prison has so much more room than the bus did--

    I know ya don't mean that... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 01:11:42 PM EST
    I rather starve uninsured suffering from syphillis in a ditch than be healthy and fed but caged like an animal.

    As frustrating and sufferable as it can be under the bus, it always beats captivity.


    Interesting. I suppose I'd make (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 01:29:25 PM EST
    the same choice.  

    That depends: (none / 0) (#7)
    by the capstan on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 01:55:42 PM EST
    for my kids, especially for the one that cannot defend herself, I'd risk the cage.  After all, I figure I am smart enough to deploy a persuasive defence--and I can hire a lawyer, also.  In this case I am standing between some bureaucrat and the caretaker who has enough compassion and wisdom to follow my directions.
    Fed and doctored but 'caged' could describe members of the retarded population who have no personal advocate.  Being allowed to choose is not something they can do; their only protection is the oversight of an interested party or a dedicated caregiver.

    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 02:13:05 PM EST
    ya never really know till you're in that spot.

    I haven't known desperation like that where captivity starts looking good...I've only known captivity, a very short small taste, and that was enough for me to question if their is a fate worse than captivity and freedom denied.


    There's captive by choice and captive by birth, (5.00 / 0) (#9)
    by the capstan on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 02:58:57 PM EST
    kdog, as well as captive by law. The retarded population has no recourse (captive by birth) until some caretaker is so overwhelmed that the victim is punished, sometimes viciously.  On the other hand, those who earn their bread as 'keepers' have every incentive to keep their charges alive even after life becomes a painful burden.

    There's a fine line that may be easily crossed, especially once loving parents die of old age.  (That would not be uncommon with the Downs people, most of whom, unlike my daughter, have been born to folks in their later years.)
    Eternal vigilence may not result in freedom for my daughter, but I can make a difference in her life by pushing back against bureauocracy and stupid rules and regulations.


    And I wish you all... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 03:03:34 PM EST
    the luck in the world cap.

    Hope I wasn't out of line, I misread your original comment and confused your sentiments with another sentiment I sometimes hear along the lines of "prison is wonderful, free room and board and healthcare and even a tv!" I hate hearing that sh*t, but that was not what you were on about...not at all.  


    Thanks for the good wishes! (none / 0) (#11)
    by the capstan on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 03:24:55 PM EST
    You caught me in 'the heat of battle'--all stirred up over a personal injustice.  But, I must say, a spell in prison, if allowed internet access (not likely) would give me all sorts of time to foment trouble.  (But the food is probably lousy, and prisoners no longer can 'order out.')

    Cap, I used to teach (none / 0) (#13)
    by Zorba on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 04:17:03 PM EST
    the developmentally disabled.  I well know what you are speaking of.  I had several students who had been in state institutions, nursing homes, even group homes, who had been abused before being removed from these situations.  Females seemed to have been particularly vulnerable- yes, I hate to say this, but some of them had been raped by caretakers or other residents, with nothing being done to protect them.  The stories told by the families of such students (who thought that their children were being well cared for, after they could no longer care for them themselves) would make your hair stand on end.  You are the best advocate for your daughter.  I must also add a caveat here- I also knew of many group homes and semi-independent living situations that did a wonderful job of caring for their charges, teaching them, and allowing them to achieve a remarkable level of independence and dignity.  My heart goes out to you, and to your daughter.  You both are in my thoughts.

    Thanks! (none / 0) (#14)
    by the capstan on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 06:13:25 PM EST
    My daughter is lucky in her home.  She moved in 11 years ago after her dad had a stroke.  The county board has developed a little empire of   3- and 4-bedroom houses, and the aides do three 8-hour shifts on weekends but only two on weekdays because of the activity center programs.  All homes are same-sex, but the staff is usually female.  These are called 'community training homes' and those who are capable are promoted to semi-independent living and a few go on to supervised independent living.  What I am fighting seems to be a state regulation that intimidates staff into allowing doctors to prescribe and treat at will, so to speak, unless Medicare/Medicaid refuses to pay. And btw, parents know how much we owe to the staff who patiently care for our children.

    I feel for you (none / 0) (#15)
    by Zorba on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 06:29:57 PM EST
    How can they "treat at will" when the clients cannot make a fully-informed medical decision on their own?  Shouldn't they be consulting with and getting approval from parents or other relatives who are closest to them?  (And, yes, I knew and worked with many staff members who cared for the developmentally disabled who did stellar jobs, and I salute them.)

    There's a former nursing dean (5.00 / 0) (#16)
    by the capstan on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 07:26:27 PM EST
    who wants to find out how and why the aides can be punished for not following doctors' orders.  All I know is that my daughter's house manager said she'd in deep trouble if orders were not followed.  I can keep that from happening with a formal letter refusing the treatment.  But I have been trying to teach administrative staff how to 'administrate' with caution and knowledge.  I beat them back recently concerning a pap smear and a colonoscopy, but the principle seems not to be understood.  However, they have learned that I insist on good reasons 'why' and won't be bullied.  They now notify me before changing her medical regimen.

    You Don't Have to go For Life... (none / 0) (#12)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 03:46:21 PM EST
    ... just enough to get some medical care.  At this rate, prisons will look more like Florida, full of the uninsured elderly waiting for their health care.

    'All my homies in cell block D waiting for their colonoscopy.'  

    There's an added benefit... messing with the law, shoplift till you drop, lite it up whenever and wherever you want, write some fake scripts, beat the old lady, literally(joke), it's about as close to anarchy as you can get.

    Then you get busted and get some medical treatment.


    Still don't know man... (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Sat Sep 17, 2011 at 10:31:53 AM EST
    I got stir crazy in a holding cell for less than 24 hrs...I would go stark raving mad to have basic human movement denied like that for any extended period of time.  Ya can't put a price on seeing the sunrise, dropping a duece in private, any number of things we take for granted that are denied those in captivity...dignity most of all.

    Its too much to trade for healthcare...ya need a quality of life worth caring for.