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U.S. Department of Justice Seeks $28.2 Billion Budget

Despite initial reports that the Justice Department’s 2012 budget would decrease, the latest numbers indicate the Department will seek a 2% increase, including a 10% hike for prison operations.

During a February 14, 2011 public news briefing, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the issue of whether terrorism detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba might be transferred to a prison in Thompson, Illinois was still uncertain. The Justice Department’s 2012 budget dropped a prior request for the federal government to acquire Thompson from the State of Illinois. Instead, the Department is seeking about $67 million to renovate and reopen Thompson as a federal facility, as well as to open new prisons in Berlin, New Hampshire and Abbeville, Alabama.

Prison and detention aspects of the Justice Department’s proposed budget would rise to $8.3 billion, reflecting an expected 7,200-prisoner increase over the current federal prison population of 211,000. Of the 2,000 new employees the Department seeks to hire in 2012, 1,800 are slated for the Bureau of Prisons. Five additional attorneys and 71 agents are sought for national security offices. A new Electronic Surveillance Center is requested in the budget. Thus the Obama administration’s hope for change leaves those who wish for criminal justice reform still hoping as the president delivers more of the same: more cops, prisons and prosecutors, and ultimately prisoners.

Cuts are proposed in the areas of aid to state, local and tribal governments, and in the COPS grant program to help police departments hire new officers. The National Drug Intelligence Center will lose half its funding, while the DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Team will lose about 16% of its budget in administrative and management services, decreased travel expenses and consolidation of office space.

Sources:, Legal Times

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