Statement of Attorney General John Ashcroft
Before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary May 2, 2001
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
It is both an honor and a pleasure to appear before you this morning to present President Bush's first budget request for the Department of Justice. For Fiscal Year 2002, the President's budget seeks $24.65 billion for the Department of Justice, including $20.94 billion in discretionary spending authority and $3.71 billion in mandatory resources, such as fees. This budget seeks to fulfill our basic federal law enforcement responsibilities, address emerging technology and critical infrastructure needs, and focus on the Administration's priorities of reducing gun crime, combating drug use, guaranteeing the rights of all Americans, and empowering communities in their continued fight against crime.
While the fiscal year 2002 budget request maintains the same overall amount of discretionary spending authority as was provided by this Subcommittee in FY 2001, we have managed to enhance a number of key areas. The budget includes a general shift in spending from state and local law enforcement in order to support our core federal law enforcement mission, and better target assistance to areas of greatest need, such as crime in our schools, crimes committed with firearms, and violence against women. The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program is continued at a somewhat reduced level, with resources targeted for school safety, law enforcement technology needs, and reducing DNA backlogs. The COPS request does not disrupt or affect the commitments made to put 100,000 more police on the streets and, in fact, goes further by proposing to hire up to an additional 1,500 School Resource Officers.
Basic Law Enforcement - The Core Federal Mission
The budget I present to you today first addresses the basic law enforcement responsibilities of the Department of Justice. The mission of the Department is clear: to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to provide leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; to administer and enforce the nation's immigration laws fairly and effectively; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. The FY 2002 budget includes $1.057 billion in program increases to enable the Department to carry out its mission, particularly in the areas of detention and incarceration, antiterrorism, cybercrime, and counterintelligence.
Increased Detention and Incarceration Capacity
The number of inmates in the Federal Prison System has more than doubled since 1990 as a result of tougher sentencing guidelines, mandatory minimum sentences, the abolition of parole, and increased federal law enforcement efforts. This surge in the prison population continually tests the limits of our detention and incarceration capacity. The FY 2002 budget for the Department of Justice includes a $949.5 million increase in funding to support the federal responsibility of detaining individuals awaiting trial or sentencing in federal court, and incarcerating inmates who have been sentenced to prison for federal crimes.
The rapid growth in the federal inmate population is expected to continue. Despite the investment of nearly $5 billion for prison construction over the past decade, the prison system is currently operating at 32 percent over its rated capacity -- up from 22 percent at the end of 1997. These conditions could jeopardize public safety and cannot be ignored. The FY 2002 budget seeks an additional $809.27 million for the Bureau of Prisons to reduce overcrowding and accommodate future growth. Specifically, $669.97 million is requested to fund the construction of three Federal Corrections Institutions and four United States Penitentiaries; partial site and planning funds for two female facilities and two male facilities; and $139.3 million is requested for the activation of the Federal Corrections Institute in Petersburg, Virginia, and the United States Penitentiary and work camp in Lee County, Virginia; and, the contract confinement costs to meet the anticipated increase in the federal prison population.
To increase the detention capacity and staffing necessary to keep pace with the growth in INS enforcement activities, the Department's request includes an increase of $74.2 million. Within this amount is $42.3 million in new resources to support the staffing, transportation, medical, and removal costs associated with the utilization of an additional 1,607 detention beds in FY 2002. And, $31.9 million in new resources will support detention planning and construction costs associated with additional detention bedspace and other improvements at INS Service Processing Centers. INS's detention and removal efforts will suffer if additional reliable bedspace is not created. In many INS districts, contracting for detention space is not a viable option, considering the remoteness of the locations in which INS operates.
The workload of the United States Marshals Service is, in many ways, unpredictable in that the Marshals' organization must meet the needs of the Judiciary and our investigators and prosecutors. The Marshals do not control the number of threats that judges may be confronted with, nor the number of prisoners coming into its custody. For FY 2002, our request includes $64.4 million in increased funding for the United States Marshals Service to cover the medical and housing costs associated with an increase of one million jail days for Marshals Service detainees held in non-federal facilities; to address the anticipated workload increases as a result of the D.C. Revitalization Act; for the staffing and equipping of courthouses that are new or undergoing significant renovations; and to support the costs of increased prisoner movements.
Also included within the Department's requested increase for incarceration and detention is a critically needed $1.65 million for the United States Parole Commission to support anticipated workload increases associated with its takeover of the District of Columbia's parole revocation and supervised release hearing functions, as outlined in the D.C. Revitalization Act.
Counterterrorism, Cybercrime, and Counterintelligence Efforts
Preventing terrorism, deterring computer crime, and thwarting foreign espionage are among the most serious challenges facing law enforcement today. The Department of Justice, with the strong support of your Subcommittee, has acted aggressively to prevent, mitigate, and investigate acts of terrorism, including the use of weapons of mass destruction, and the emerging threat of cybercrime. For FY 2002, we are requesting $107.96 million in additional funding to support the Department's counterterrorism, cybercrime, and counterintelligence efforts.
The nation's growing dependency on technology systems has resulted in a heightened vulnerability of our banking system, critical transportation networks, and vital government services, while also significantly increasing the incidence and complexity of crime. To address the emerging cyber threat, the FY 2002 budget includes $33 million in increased resources. Within this amount, $28.14 million will support the FBI's counter-encryption capabilities, and the development of cyber technologies for the interception and management of digital evidence. For the U.S. Attorneys, $2.95 million is included to support 24 new positions for the prosecution of crimes committed using the Internet. And, $1.9 million is included for the Criminal Division for 14 new positions to continue coordinating the rising number of investigations and prosecutions of multi-jurisdictional national and international intrusion; denial of service attacks and virus cases; and to provide increased network security and encryption capabilities for its automated infrastructure.
To combat the threat of terrorism, the FY 2002 budget includes $39.4 million in new funding. For the FBI, $32 million is requested for security and investigative duties at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah; for increased security requirements at various FBI locations; and, to support its incident response readiness responsibilities. In addition, recognizing the critical role state and local public safety agencies have in managing the consequences of any terrorist event involving weapons of mass destruction, the Department's budget request includes $220.5 million to continue the Office of Justice Programs' Counterterrorism programs in FY 2002 and ensure state and local response readiness. For the INS, $6.59 million in new funding is included to establish intelligence units along our northern and southern borders. These units will monitor terrorist activities and smuggling operations, and assist in tracking the movement of illicit narcotics, weapons, and other contraband across our nation's borders.
The Department's FY 2002 budget also requests $31.6 million in additional funding to allow the FBI to more completely and effectively assess and defeat foreign intelligence threats to our national security. Included within this amount is funding for the Criminal Division to continue assisting the FBI with investigations involving counterintelligence, particularly those involving espionage and high technology export violations.
Technology and Critical Infrastructure Needs
Coordination between federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies is crucial to crime solving and criminal apprehension. The pooling of information and resources can greatly increase efficiency and decrease the time involved in solving a case. Because law enforcement agencies have developed a reliance on one another for accurate and timely information, our crime fighting agencies must maintain up-to-date information systems and develop secure processes for sharing this information. The FY 2002 budget request includes $302 million in new funding to address these needs, focusing on systems integration, upgrades, network reliability, efficient processes, and state-of-the-art technologies. In addition, the Department plans to request the use of $67 million from its Working Capital Fund for infrastructure needs.
For the FBI, our budget request includes $67.7 million to support the second year of Trilogy, the FBI's 3-year information technology upgrade plan. Another $6.5 million will permit the acquisition of communication circuits that will support faster transmission of data and greater network reliability. For activation of the new FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, we are seeking $1.16 million in direct spending and the use of up to $40 million from the Department's Working Capital Fund. To continue the critically needed integration of the INS and FBI Fingerprint Identification Systems, we are seeking $28 million -$1 million in direct spending and the use of up to $27 million from the Working Capital Fund. This funding will be used to improve INS fingerprinting capabilities, and integrate the INS Automated Biometrics Identification System (IDENT) with the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). This investment of resources will better equip us to prevent a recurrence of an incident similar to the Rafael Resendiz-Ramirez serial killings that occurred in 1999.
To directly assist state and local law enforcement agencies with their technology needs, the FY 2002 budget includes an increase of $225.7 million in grant funding. Specifically, the Department is requesting $20.7 million for Crime Identification Technology Act (CITA) funding; $35 million to address the backlog of state convicted offender DNA and crime scene DNA samples that exist nationwide; $35 million for the Crime Lab Improvement Program (CLIP) to improve the general forensic science capabilities of laboratories; $35 million for the Criminal Records Upgrade Program to promote compatibility among criminal history, criminal justice, and identification record systems nationwide; and $100 million for technology grants for state and local law enforcement under the COPS program. The FY 2002 budget significantly increases the funding available to state and local law enforcement for technology initiatives - a natural follow-on to the COPS program that provided additional officers on the street. Now we need to ensure state and local law enforcement is adequately equipped with the best technology to do its job.
Bush Administration Priorities
The budget I present to you today also focuses on several key areas that are reflective of the priorities of the Bush Administration. During my confirmation hearings, I said I believe a citizen's paramount civil right is safety. Americans have a right to be secure in their persons, homes and communities. Gun violence, violence against women, drug crime, and sexual predators all threaten to deny this most fundamental right. It is a core responsibility of government, led by the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, cooperating with local law enforcement officials, to secure this right. Our FY 2002 budget provides $650 million in additional funding to advance this effort. Children do not learn in schools overrun by neighborhood violence. Jobs will not be found in communities where criminals own the streets, and no American who now feels threatened should have to move to live in a safer neighborhood.
Reducing Gun Crime
I announced at the outset of my tenure as Attorney General that one of my top priorities would be the formation of a new firearms enforcement initiative, along with a task force to develop and implement this initiative. This group includes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and various components from within the Department of Justice, including the Office of the Attorney General, FBI, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, and others. They have been meeting regularly and I look forward to hearing their recommendations in the next several weeks.
There is no question that we need a renewed commitment to the vigorous enforcement of existing laws addressing gun crime. The recent spate of gun violence on school campuses and the alarming rate at which gang related violence occurs in schools, on playgrounds, and at parks throughout the country highlight the need for federal prosecutors to work with state and local law enforcement to pursue serious juvenile offenders. I intend to renew enforcement efforts in this area by building on successes in existing jurisdictions and by developing a comprehensive strategy to target gun violence. The FY 2002 budget request for the Department of Justice takes the first step toward this goal and includes $153.78 million in increased resources to vigorously enforce gun laws through increased prosecutions, strategic approaches to crimes committed with firearms, and ensuring that child safety locks are available for every handgun in America.
For the U.S. Attorneys, $9 million is included to support Project Sentry, a new federal-state law enforcement partnership to identify and prosecute juveniles who violate state and federal firearms laws and the adults who supply them with guns. This funding will be used to hire a prosecutor in each of the 94 U.S. Attorneys' Offices around the country who will focus on gun crimes involving or affecting juveniles, including school-related violence and trafficking firearms to minors.
Another $20 million will be provided to Project Sentry through the COPS program and the Juvenile Justice Title V program. This funding establishes safe school task forces across the country that will also prosecute and supervise juveniles who carry or use guns illegally, as well as the adults who illegally furnish firearms to them.
Within the Office of Justice Programs, $49.78 million is requested for a new gun violence program that will provide grants to encourage states to increase the prosecution of gun criminals and assist them by providing funding to establish programs that target gun criminals through increased arrests and prosecutions and public awareness to deter gun crime. This funding will support Project Exile and Project Ceasefire type programs that vigorously enforce our gun laws and send a clear signal that our culture will not tolerate the illegal use of firearms.
Another $75 million is included for Child Safe, a new program that will provide funds to ensure child safety locks are available for every handgun in America. The Office of Justice Programs will provide $65 million annually to state and local governments on a dollar-for-dollar matching basis. Locks will be distributed by local municipalities, counties, or private organizations. The annual federal matching funds will also be available to match private contributions by organizations seeking assistance in the goal of providing locks for every handgun in America. The remaining $10 million will be spent, annually, on administrative costs and advertising, including a national toll-free hotline to make sure all parents are aware of the program.
Combating Drug Use
The cost of illegal drug use to this nation continues to rise and is borne by all Americans through tax dollars for increased law enforcement, incarceration, treatment programs, and medical needs. Estimates of the total cost exceed $100 billion annually, yet do not begin to capture the human costs associated with drug abuse that are measured in wasted human capital, and the pain and suffering of many American families. The FY 2002 budget for the Department of Justice includes $77.2 million in additional resources for law enforcement agencies to combat illegal drug use.
Specifically, our budget requests $58.16 million in enhancements for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Included within this amount is $30 million and 3 positions for DEA's global information technology and intelligence network, FIREBIRD. This funding will enable the DEA to complete its deployment, provide network security, and support technology renewal of the system. Another $15 million and 62 positions are included to provide critical support for DEA's role in the interagency Special Operations Division, and DEA's Investigative Technology programs, particularly for investigations associated with the Southwest Border, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. To meet mission critical requirements within the laboratory services program, $13.1 million and 69 positions are also included. This request will give DEA sufficient chemist resources to address a growing backlog of exhibits, and establish a laboratory equipment base that will better support program operations.
The production and use of methamphetamine (meth) has been on the rise over the past few years, and the number of meth laboratories has increased dramatically across the country. In 1998 and 1999 combined, law enforcement agencies seized meth labs in every state except 3.
Meth lab enforcement and clean-up efforts are complicated by the presence of hazardous materials produced during the manufacturing process. Cleaning up these labs is a costly and risky business posing life-threatening consequences to our law enforcement officials who come across these labs, as well as severe and toxic environmental damage to the surrounding area. State and local law enforcement agencies can be overwhelmed by the need to confront even one large laboratory. Meth dealers and drug organizations have targeted rural communities, places where many of the local law enforcement agencies have neither the expertise nor the resources to deal with this serious threat. The FY 2002 budget continues to provide $48 million for the Office of Justice Programs to assist state and local law enforcement agencies with the costs associated with meth cleanup and to aid meth enforcement.
While law enforcement is an effective and essential tool in combating the violent crime associated with illegal drug use in communities throughout our nation, treatment for the individual abuser is also important. Our FY 2002 request includes $14 million to expand residential substance abuse treatment in federal and state prison systems. We have also requested $5 million for the National Institute of Justice to expand the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program to 15 additional sites across the country, so that more communities will have sound data about the links between drugs and crime on which to base their law enforcement policies and offender treatment practices.
Guaranteeing Rights for All Americans
The Department of Justice has a unique role in guaranteeing the rights of all Americans. This role includes promoting the enforcement of our nation's civil rights laws and deterring violent crimes against women. Through the efforts of the Civil Rights Division, the Community Relations Service, the United States Attorneys Offices, the FBI, and the Office of Justice Programs, the Department seeks to protect the civil rights and liberties guaranteed to all Americans. The FY 2002 budget includes an increase of $105.7 million to further its role in this area.
Specifically, we have requested a $102.5 million increase in Violence Against Women Act programs to support new and existing programs. Authorized under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, the budget includes: $15 million for the Safe Havens for Children Pilot Grant Program; $40 million for the Legal Assistance for Victims Program; $10 million for the Grants to Reduce Violent Crimes Against Women on Campus Program; $5 million for a new Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Program; and $7.5 million for education and training to end violence against and abuse of women with disabilities.
Our request also includes $1.2 million in funding to support three studies by the Office of Justice Programs' Bureau of Justice Statistics. The first study will deal with police initiated stops of motorists for routine traffic violations. The second study will deal with deaths while in law enforcement custody as required under the Deaths in Custody Act. The third study will measure victimization of the population with disabilities in the United States.
For the Civil Rights Division, the FY 2002 budget includes a $2 million enhancement to address several important initiatives, including enforcement of the newly enacted Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which affords expanded protections and services for trafficking victims and creates several new federal crimes for which the Division is the lead component with respect to enforcement. With the FY 2002 allocation, the Division will be able to hire additional prosecutors and conduct a community outreach program.
The FY 2002 funding will also help the Civil Rights Division implement the President's New Freedom Initiative to assist persons with disabilities, including expanded outreach to America's small business sector, improved access to information technologies and voting, and swift implementation of the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision to provide services to people with disabilities in community-based settings. The FY 2002 budget includes funding for new attorney hires that will allow the Civil Rights Division to undertake a broad voting rights initiative aimed at ensuring voter access and the integrity of the voting process. Our FY 2002 budget request also includes funding to increase the Division's presence in employer and other communities to prevent immigration-related unfair employment practices.
Empowering Communities in their Fight Against Crime
The active involvement of communities throughout America is a critical and necessary resource in our fight against crime. By broadening the base of resources available at the local level, communities will be better equipped to provide their citizens with the tools necessary to ensure a safe environment in which their children can grow and learn. Nowhere is this more evident than in the success of the Weed and Seed Program where communities work in partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to target criminals, "weed" them out of their neighborhoods with swift and certain prosecution, and then go to work to take back the houses, schools, and recreation centers, that made the communities a safe haven and home to so many. President Bush's FY 2002 budget includes a $25 million increase for the Weed and Seed program - building upon an initiative that was first started during his father's Administration - and with the active support of many on this Subcommittee.
The FY 2002 budget also includes $5 million for the development of a faith-based, pre-release pilot program at four federal prisons. The pilot will include male and female programs at different geographic sites and security levels. This faith-based initiative -- which will be voluntary and open to inmates of any faith, or no faith at all -- aims to combat crime and curb recidivism so that ex-offenders can remain ex-offenders. Religion and crime are age-old enemies, and a growing body of empirical evidence shows the potency of the "faith factor" to change behavior. This model initiative, with a strong focus on one-on-one, post-prison aftercare, will offer moral guidance and a caring community to help ex-offenders re-enter society with hope and responsibility.
Improving Immigration Services and Border Enforcement
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has two principal functions: enforcement and service. Right now, the INS's performance is widely criticized. This Administration intends to turn the agency around. Restructuring of the INS will be a top priority. The FY 2002 budget includes an additional $240.14 million for immigration-related activities.
The Bush Administration is committed to building and maintaining an immigration services system that ensures integrity, provides services accurately and in a timely manner, and emphasizes a culture of respect. The FY 2002 budget includes $45 million in increased resources to reduce the backlogs in benefits processing. This request, combined with $35 million in base funding and $20 million in premium processing fees, represents the first $100 million installment in a five-year, $500 million initiative to provide quality service to all legal immigrants, citizens, businesses, and other INS customers. It will enable INS to establish and accomplish a universal six-month processing standard for all immigration applications and petitions and, through employee performance incentives, make customer satisfaction a high priority.
The FY 2002 budget also includes $75 million for the INS to add 570 new Border Patrol agents in 2002, with plans to add another 570 in 2003. With these 1,140 additional agents, the total increase of 5,000 Border Patrol agents authorized by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) will be achieved. Approximately 11,000 agents will be deployed along the nation's northern and southern borders by the end of 2003, 11 percent more than the 2001 level of 9,800.
In support of the additional agents, another $20 million is requested in FY 2002 for the INS to increase the deployment of force multiplying border enforcement technology. The Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System (ISIS) will provide day and night visual coverage of the border, can be deployed in rugged terrain and in vast open areas, and serves as a deterrent to potential illegal border crossers in areas where Border Patrol agents are not immediately visible.
To address chronic space shortages and facility deficiencies, the FY 2002 budget includes $42.73 million for INS Border Patrol facility construction. Many of the Border Patrol facilities were built prior to the 1970's and cannot accommodate the tremendous growth in the number of agents.
For the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), the FY 2002 budget includes $4.85 million in increased funding to coordinate with INS initiatives, which are anticipated to increase annually the Immigration Judge caseload and the Board of Immigration Appeals caseload by 10,000 cases. The budget also includes an additional $1.2 million for the U.S. Attorneys to meet immigration workload generated from a rise in habeas corpus petitions filed by detainees held in INS custody indefinitely. These detainees have been issued an order of deportation but cannot be removed because their country of origin will not accept them. Many detainees challenge the legal authority of the INS to hold them by petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus. Another $1.36 million is requested for the Office of the Inspector General to address corruption and civil rights violations involving Department employees along the Southwest border.
To enhance the prosecutorial resources of county prosecutors located near the Southwest border, our FY 2002 request includes $50 million. Thousands of federal drug arrests occurring near the Southwest border are referred to county prosecutors because the quantity of drugs seized is too small to meet the threshold set by local U.S. Attorneys for prosecution. The Department will devote $50 million to assist counties near the Southwest border with the costs of prosecuting and detaining these referrals. Grants will be awarded based on Southwest border county caseloads for processing, detaining, and prosecuting drug and alien cases referred from federal arrestees.
The Administration will propose splitting INS into two agencies with separate chains of command, but reporting to a single policy official in the Department of Justice. I support this restructuring, believe its time has come, and look forward to working with the Subcommittee as the proposal moves through the Congress.
Redirection of State and Local Resources
The FY 2002 budget provides over $4.2 billion for state and local law enforcement grant programs. Included within the request are newly created initiatives or enhancements to existing programs to address specific crime problems. These proposals include: an increase in Violence Against Women Act funding of more than 35 percent; an expansion of the Weed and Seed program; more funding for drug treatment in state prisons; increased assistance for state prosecutors; and new anti-gun violence programs.
Reductions are made primarily in four areas: 1) Byrne discretionary grants; 2) the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program; 3) the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program; and 4) State Prison grants. These funding reductions are recommended for programs that have fulfilled their original purpose, outlived their authorizations, or are less essential to core federal law enforcement functions. This redirection in funding will allow the Department to meet many of the federal law enforcement agency priorities that I have highlighted for you here today.
Chairman Wolf, Congressman Serrano, Members of the Subcommittee, I have outlined for you today the principal focus of President Bush's FY 2002 budget request for the Department of Justice. I am new to the job of Attorney General of the United States and am still learning about many of the programs we have under our jurisdiction. I look forward to your advice and counsel.
Thank you. I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have.