Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that President Obama’s FY 2015 Budget proposal for the Department of Justice calls for $173 million in targeted investments for criminal justice reform efforts.
These investments—such as increased funding for state and local prisoner reentry initiatives—are among the key highlights in the president’s overall $27.4 billion budget request for the Justice Department. The FY 2015 request, which represents a $122 million increase over the FY 2014 enacted level, supports a range of federal law enforcement priorities, as well as the criminal justice priorities of state, local and tribal law enforcement partners.
“Each dollar spent on prevention and reentry has the potential to save several dollars in incarceration costs,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “These wise investments can help make our criminal justice system more effective and efficient. Overall, this budget request shows our strong commitment to building upon the record of progress we have established in fulfilling the Justice Department’s most critical missions.”
In August 2013, the Attorney General introduced the “Smart on Crime” initiative—a package of reforms to the criminal justice system to help ensure that federal laws are enforced more fairly and more efficiently. Among other reforms, the effort promotes diversion courts and other alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenders, and urges investment in reentry programs in order to reduce recidivism among formerly incarcerated individuals.
The President’s budget request seeks to put critical resources behind this effort. Specifically, in addition to funds routinely provided for federal prisoner reentry efforts, the FY 2015 request:
• Requests $15 million for U.S. Attorneys, including prosecution prioritization, prevention and reentry work and promoting alternatives to incarceration such as the establishment of drug courts and veteran courts;
• Sustains $15 million for the Bureau of Prisons to expand the Residential Drug Abuse Program at the federal level and $14 million provided in the FY 2014 appropriation to assist inmates with reentering society and reducing the population of individuals who return to prison after being released;
• Requests $14 million in the Office of Justice Programs to expand the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program at the state and local level; and
• Requests $115 million for the Second Chance Act Grant program, through state and local assistance programs, to reduce recidivism and help ex-offenders return to productive lives.
Beyond criminal justice reform, the Department of Justice’s other key funding priorities include:
• $273 million to help meet the nation’s civil rights challenges--including an $8 million program increase;
• $4 billion for national security--including a $15 million program increase;
• $1.1 billion to protect Americans from gun violence--including $182 million to support the president’s “Now is the Time” gun safety initiative;
• $722 million for cyber security--including $8 million in program increases;
• $44 million for Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty responsibilities--including $24 million in increases to reform the process;
• $681 million for financial fraud law enforcement-to maintain our current efforts;
• $2.9 billion to support immigration law enforcement--including a $23 million program increase;
• $8.5 billion to maintain and secure federal prisons and detention facilities;
• $3 billion in mandatory and discretionary funds to maintain assistance to state, local and tribal law enforcement; and
• $1.2 billion in federal program offsets and rescissions.
In addition, the FY 2015 President’s Budget proposes additional discretionary investments for the department as part of the Administration’s Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative. The initiative includes targeted investments for state and local justice assistance grants, with additional resources for the Comprehensive School Safety Program, COPS Hiring Program, and new youth investments; funding for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to continue the process of bringing on-line newly completed and acquired prisons; and funding for improved capacity for financial fraud enforcement.
Below is an explanation of a few of the key highlights from President Obama’s FY 2015 budget request for the Department of Justice:
The department’s mission includes upholding the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly the most vulnerable members of our society. Accomplishing this requires necessary resources both to investigate and to litigate. The department maintains substantial responsibilities with respect to enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws and protecting vulnerable populations. The FY 2015 budget will support the department’s vigorous enforcement of federal civil rights laws – including those pertaining to human trafficking, hate crimes, police misconduct, fair housing, fair lending, disability rights and voting. As such, the department’s FY 2015 budget requests $273 million to help meet the nation’s civil rights challenges. The request includes $7.6 million in program increases for the Civil Rights Division and Community Relations Service.
For more information, view the Civil Rights Fact Sheet at www.justice.gov/jmd/2015factsheets/.
Defending our nation’s security from both internal and external threats remains the department’s highest priority. The FY 2015 budget request provides a total of $4 billion to maintain critical counterterrorism and counterintelligence programs, and sustains recent increases for intelligence gathering and surveillance capabilities.
The Administration supports critical national security programs within the department, including those led by the FBI and the National Security Division (NSD). In FY 2013, the FBI dedicated 4,500 agents to investigate more than 18,000 national security cases. NSD has continued to carry out its primary functions to prevent acts of terrorism and espionage in the United States and to facilitate the collection of information regarding the activities of foreign agents and powers.
In FY 2015, the department is investing an additional $15 million to fund the annual costs of the FBI’s new Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC) at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. TEDAC is a forensic and technical laboratory dedicated to the mitigation and prevention of improvised explosive device attacks in the United States and abroad. It has provided critical assistance to domestic and international cases, including last year’s Boston Marathon bombing.
For more information, view the National Security Fact Sheet at www.justice.gov/jmd/2015factsheets/.
Gun violence has touched every state, county, city and town in America. In 2013 the President introduced the “Now is the Time” initiative, which laid out a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence and save lives. The department is working to implement a number of these actions and requests a total of $1.1 billion in FY 2015 to address violent gun crimes, including $182 million to sustain the new investments provided in FY 2014.
Specifically, the request provides $35 million in new resources in support of the president’s plan to ensure that those who are not eligible to purchase or possess guns are prevented from doing so. This includes $13 million for the FBI to maintain improvements made in FY 2014 to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) aimed at addressing the increasing volume of firearm background checks. We are also taking a thorough look at our federal laws and our enforcement priorities to ensure that we are doing everything possible at the federal level to keep firearms away from traffickers and others prohibited by law from possessing firearms. To this end, $22 million is also included for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to sustain critical firearms enforcement efforts funded in FY 2014.
And while most of the department’s efforts will be focused on keeping guns out of the wrong hands, we also want to help those on the ground prevent and mitigate violent situations when they do occur. To this end, the grant program requests a total of $147 million including $55 million to incentivize states to provide criminal history and mental health records to the NICS; $75 million to continue the Comprehensive School Safety program, which provides critical resources for research and for pilot programs to augment school safety personnel and to determine the effectiveness of various school safety measures; $2 million to encourage the development of innovative gun safety technology; and $15 million for the VALOR Initiative, including training for active shooter situations.
For more information, view Gun Safety Fact Sheet at www.justice.gov/jmd/2015factsheets/.
Investigating cybercrime and protecting our nation’s critical network infrastructure is a top priority of the department in an era when cyber-attacks and crimes are increasingly common, sophisticated, and dangerous. The FY 2015 budget request provides a total of $722 million for the department’s cyber enforcement efforts and maintains recent increases for the National Security Division’s (NSD) prosecutorial efforts and the FBI’s Next Generation Cyber Initiative, which enhanced capabilities to combat cyber threats from individuals, organized groups and rogue actors. The request also includes an increase of $3 million for the Criminal Division to enhance its investigative and prosecutorial capabilities; and $5 million to provide grants related to cybercrime and intellectual property enforcement.
The department has a unique and critical role in cyber security that emphasizes domestic mitigation of threats and involves countering these threats by investigating and prosecuting intrusion cases, gathering intelligence and providing legal and policy support to other departments. The department is also responsible for establishing effective internal network defense and serving as a model for other departments and agencies.
We are committed to carrying out our role consistent with the Administration’s Executive Order 13636 on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cyber Security, which emphasizes intelligence and information sharing as well as the preservation of privacy, data confidentiality and civil liberties. As part of this effort, the department continues to maintain and strengthen its cyber security environment to counter cyber threats, including insider threats, and to ensure personnel have unimpeded access to the IT systems, networks and data necessary to achieve their missions.
For more information, view the Cyber Security Fact Sheet at www.justice.gov/jmd/2015factsheets/.
MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE TREATY (MLAT) REFORM
The department is leading an effort to update, improve and accelerate the processing of requests from foreign governments for evidence requested pursuant to Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT). Delays and difficulties in obtaining evidentiary records through the MLAT process is increasingly becoming a source of frustration for many of our foreign country partners. The department is committed to honoring its obligations under these treaties, and as a result the FY 2015 budget request includes a total of $44 million to support MLAT responsibilities, including an increase of $24 million to centralize and improve the MLAT request process.
Over the past decade, the number of requests for assistance from foreign authorities handled by the Criminal Division’s (CRM) Office of International Affairs (OIA) has increased nearly 60 percent, and the number of requests for computer records has increased ten-fold. While the workload has increased dramatically, U.S. Government resources, including personnel and technology, have not kept pace with this increased demand. This MLAT reform is a cross-agency effort involving the Departments of Justice, State and Commerce. Funds identified in the FY 2015 President’s Budget for improvements to the MLAT program will be coordinated across these departments and agencies as well as the commercial sector. With these additional resources, the department will centralize the processing system and reduce its backlog and response time by half by the end of 2015.
These resources are critical to supporting the President’s National Security Strategy, which recognizes the centrality of international mutual cooperation in criminal justice and counterterrorism matters, by building the “new framework for international cooperation” envisioned by that strategy.
For more information, view the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty Fact Sheet at www.justice.gov/jmd/2015factsheets/.
Investigating and prosecuting financial fraud continues to be a priority for the Obama Administration. The FY 2015 budget request provides a total of $681 million for financial fraud enforcement and continues efforts to strengthen the department’s ability to pursue large-scale financial fraud investigations in order to ensure that Americans, their investments and our financial markets are protected. The Administration’s Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative includes additional resources for the department’s critical economic fraud enforcement efforts focused on financial institutions and the mortgage industry.
Ongoing efforts by the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) are included in the department’s request. Since its inception in FY 2010, FFETF has facilitated increased investigations and prosecution of financial fraud relating to the financial crisis and economic recovery efforts. This includes securities and commodities fraud, investment scams and mortgage foreclosure schemes and a broad range of financial crimes, including cases being investigated and brought by the FFETF’s Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group.
For more information, view the Financial Fraud Fact Sheet at www.justice.gov/jmd/2015factsheets/.
The department maintains substantial responsibilities with respect to immigration, including enforcement, detention, judicial functions, administrative hearings and litigation. The department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) maintains a nationwide presence overseeing the immigration court and appeals process. Combined with the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation, the department has a wide and important role in immigration enforcement.
EOIR receives cases directly from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforcement personnel, and EOIR’s caseload is increasing at unsustainable levels. For example, EOIR’s immigration court caseload has continued to outpace department resources, increasing by 56 percent, from 229,000 to 358,000, between FY 2009 and FY 2013.
The FY 2015 budget request includes a $23 million investment to support immigration courts. The budget supports an additional 35 Immigration Judge Teams and 15 Board of Immigration Appeals attorneys. This will allow EOIR to address caseload increases emanating from DHS programs. The additional funding will also enable EOIR to expand a pilot program initially funded in FY 2014 that provides counsel to vulnerable populations, such as unaccompanied alien children, and to expand the Legal Orientation Program that improves efficiencies in immigration court proceedings for detained aliens.
For more information, view the Immigration Fact Sheet at www.justice.gov/jmd/2015factsheets/.
PRISONS AND DETENTION
The department continues to prioritize the maintenance of secure, controlled detention and prison facilities, as well as investment in programs that can reduce recidivism. The FY 2015 budget request provides $8.5 billion for prisons and detention. Of this amount, $6.9 billion is requested for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and $1.6 billion is for the Federal Prisoner Detention (FPD) appropriation. As part of the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, the FY 2015 request also includes targeted investments to reduce prison overcrowding by providing the Bureau of Prisons resources to bring on-line newly completed or acquired prisons.
Additionally, the budget request includes funding to support the Attorney General Holder’s Smart on Crime Initiative, which is intended to promote fundamental reforms to the criminal justice system that will ensure the fair enforcement of federal laws, improve public safety, reduce recidivism and successfully prepare inmates for their reentry into society. Included are funds to sustain the investments made in FY 2014 for BOP’s reentry programs including the Residential Drug Abuse Program, Residential Reentry Centers and reentry-specific education programs.
For more information, view the Prisons and Detention Fact Sheet at www.justice.gov/jmd/2015factsheets/.
STATE, LOCAL AND TRIBAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
In total, the FY 2015 budget requests $3 billion in mandatory and discretionary funds for state, local and tribal law enforcement assistance. These funds will allow the department to continue to support our state, local and tribal partners who fight violent crime, combat violence against women and support victim programs. The FY 2015 request will bolster the department’s efforts to ensure that federal grant funding flows to evidence-based purposes and helps to advance knowledge of what works in state and local criminal justice.
The department is requesting $1.5 billion for the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) discretionary grants. The request increases funding for an evaluation clearinghouse, an indigent defense initiative, and evidence-based competitive programs. Funding is included to establish the Byrne Incentive Grants and Juvenile Justice Realignment Incentive grants; these programs will provide supplementary awards to states and localities using formula grant funds for evidence-based purposes. The request also includes funding to address school safety and gun violence with resources to improve criminal history records information and to fund the comprehensive school safety program, which received funding initially in FY 2014.
The FY 2015 budget request includes a total of $423 million for the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), and continues the Administration’s strong commitment to providing federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to combat sexual assault and violence against women. The request includes an increase of $9 million for Legal Assistance to Victims Programs, Campus Violence, Grants to Support Families in the Justice System and the Transitional Housing program. These programs fund both proven and cutting-edge interventions to save lives, hold abusers accountable and rebuild families and communities.
The request includes $274 million for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which supports an increase of $71 million increase for COPS hiring and Tribal Law Enforcement programs. These resources will fund officers and thereby support the efforts of state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in meeting the challenge of keeping their communities safe.
For more information, view the State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement Fact Sheet at www.justice.gov/jmd/2015factsheets/