House Subcommittee Sets Off Alarms over Funding for Criminal Research and Statistics
The U.S. Department of Justice’s ability to conduct crime-related research could be hampered by a House subcommittee’s surprising decision.
The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee voted (pdf) to eliminate funding for the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), two of the department’s most important research and statistics agencies, according to The Crime Report.
The subcommittee, led by Representative John Culberson (R-Texas), decided NIJ and BJS could get by with grants and other monies from within the Justice Department. The change would not save that much money; BJS’ budget last year was only $41 million and NIJ’s was $36 million. The Justice Department budget was $27 billion.
Nevertheless, the proposal was couched as a cost-savings effort, according to Culberson, who insisted, “This is a tough budget year, but this bill ensures our law enforcement officers have the resources they need to protect our lives and property.”
Criminal justice experts said the plan was a terrible idea and would cripple the Justice Department’s research efforts. “Make no mistake, eliminating the line item budgets for BJS and NIJ will gut the agencies,” criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri at St. Louis, a former president of the American Society of Criminology, told The Crime Report. “During a period of national attention to police-community relations and prison reform, Congress should strengthen, not destroy, the nation’s leading sources of information and research on crime and justice,” Rosenfeld added.
There’s a long way to go before the subcommittee’s recommendation is finalized into law, but betting on whether the Republican-led Congress will fund any sort of science probably won’t end well.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
A Congressional Blow to Science in Criminal Justice? (by Ted Gest, The Crime Report)
White or Black doesn’t Matter; If you’re Poor, you’re more likely to be a Victim of Violent Crime (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)
Increased Testing of Old Rape Kits Starting to Lead to more Arrests and Convictions (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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