By Ted Gest, Crime & Justice News/ Despite the austere budget climate in Washington, many Department of Justice criminal justice agencies seem to be holding their own as Senate and House committees that fund the department allocate their money for the federal fiscal year starting October 1. The two largest Justice Department components, the FBI and Bureau of Prisons, both would get increases under funding approved by a Senate appropriations subcommittee. The FBI would get $8.2 billion, $114 million above this year's level, for such items as national security and cyberterrorism investigations and violent crime reduction. The prison bureau would get a $269 million increase to $6.8 billion, which would among other things "enable the activation of new prisons that are currently sitting empty due to lack of funds."
Crime-fighting grants to states and localities would get $392 million from the Senate, higher than the $370 million in current law. The House committee approved a budget with the $370 million level. The Obama administration sought $100 for programs under the Second Chance Act, which aids prisoner re-entry into society nationwide; the House committee recommended $70 million and the Senate committee $25 million. Based on what happened last year, advocates are hopeful that the final number will be closer to the higher House total. Programs to combat violence against women would get about the current $413 million total from both House and Senate panels. Local police hiring under the COPS program, which got $166 million for the current year, may be about the same next year. The Republican-controlled House panel, which has not favored the Democrat-inspired COPS program, recommended only $40 million, but the Democrat-controlled Senate committee called for $215 million. As reported here last week, juvenile justice programs could take a hit, with the Senate panel seeking $278 million and the House only $210 million, compared to a current $263 million, which itself is a big drop from previous years.