$1 Billion for Prisons in Stimulus Package

Lois Ahrens of the Real Cost of Prisons Project has alerted us to the huge amount of spending in the stimulus package on prisons and other questionable criminal justice items. See below Lois’s appeal that people contact their senators to try to get rid of the Bureau of Prisons line item and others.

President Obama’s stimulus package includes the following appropriation:
$1 billion for buildings and facilities in the Federal Prison System.

Please call your U.S. Senator today and ask that the BOP line item be deleted. Of course you can mention all of the other horrible parts of the package too but it might be best to pick one or two of what you consider the worst of the worst (so to speak).

When you call ask for the staff person who is working on the Stimulus Package and either try to speak to her/him or leave a specific message.
The Senate Switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

Please do it today. Please forward and ask others to do call.
Remember we already have 25% of the world’s prisoner population and yet only 5% of the world’s population.

Here are the other line items relating to criminal “justice”.

  • $150 million for the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee – (OFDT) is an organization that achieves efficiencies, effectiveness and operational synergies within the detention and incarceration community [sic!] by fostering interagency cooperation, mutual understanding, accountability and teamwork.
  • $50 million for Salaries and Expenses at the U.S. Marshal’s Service
  • $125 milion for Department of Justice “Construction”
  • $75 million for Salaries and Expenses at the FBI
  • $400 million for FBI “Construction”
  • $300 million for grants to combat violence against women
  • $1.5 billion for Byrne grants
  • $440 million in State and Local law enforcement grants
  • $100 million in State and Local grants for anti-narcotics work
  • $300 million in law enforcement assistance to Indian tribes
  • $100 million in grants for the Office for Victims of Crime
  • $150 million for rural law enforcement
  • $50 million in aid to combat Internet Crimes Against Children
  • $1 billion for the COPS program (hiring new police officers)

2 thoughts on “$1 Billion for Prisons in Stimulus Package”

  1. Maybe it is the knee jerk policy of the RCPP to simply oppose anything that they perceive as anything other than “pro-prisoner”, but it not clear why that necessarily requires them and evidently D&S to adopt a “anti-victim” position. Your listing funding for programs that try to provide basic counseling and assistance for the innocent victims of crime as “horrible” is not only unfortunate but completely unnecessary. Many in the crime victim’s field are quickly becoming valuable allies in pro-prisoner programs like restorative justice, reconciliation and re-entry.Unfortunately, your inexplicable singling out of funding for the only two Federal agencies dedicated to helping victims (Office on Violence Against Women and Office for Victims of Crime) undermines that growing alliance and forces millions of victims and 10 of thousands of victim assistance organizations and agencies into an adversarial position with your organization and it policies—to the detriment of all, including your own constituency (prisoners) and again, all unnecessarily. Prisoners and the Prison reform movement deserve policy leaders with more progressive insight into the newly emerging political reality that no longer necessarily pits the interests of prisoners against the interests of crime victims. If for no other reason than enlightened self-interest, prison reformers need to encourage new allies not make new enemies. Regrettably, RCPP has chosen the latter by attacking funding that is the life blood of non-profit organizations and agencies that provide the assistance to victims need and deserve it. To paraphrase the saying, “lead, follow, or at least get out of the way” of those who are trying to build bridges not barriers to a better, more enlightened and human system for the benefit of all.

  2. Actually, the Office of Violence Against Women was inadvertently included with this list. I am aware that there are some victims of violence who work toward reconciliation (see the < HREF="http://www.touchablestories.org/BMPLMAIN.htm" REL="nofollow">Bobby Mendes Peace Legacy<>); however, in the past as now, often these victims and their families become accomplices of district attorney’s and others who drive extremely long and extremely punitive sentences resulting in prison terms that are decades longer than those received by those committing similar crimes in countries without an organized “victim rights movement.” For those who want to read more about the intended and unintended consequences of social movements —even ones that began as progressive, such as the battered women’s movement of which I was a part—I recommend “The Prison and The Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America” by Marie Gottschalk (Cambridge University Press.)—Lois Ahrens, Real Cost of Prisons Project

Leave a Reply