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  • Taxpayer-Funded Program Puts Criminals on America's Streets

    At a time when the White House and Congress debate solutions for the country’s mounting debt, the Department of Justice is preparing to dole out millions for a taxpayer-subsidized program that puts violent criminals, like Chandra Levy’s killer, on the streets of American cities.

    States and localities have until mid-July to seek federal funding as part of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The Department of Justice is expected to award an estimated $3.5 million this year.

    The program was created in the 1960s to assist state and local governments with a variety of criminal justice activities, including pretrial release for nonviolent criminals. But like many other troubled government programs, it began to evolve over time and today gives even violent criminals a get-out-jail-free card.

    The grants provided by the Department of Justice are routinely used by the more than 300 pretrial release programs across the country. They often require an alleged criminal to put up little or no money before securing release from jail before trial.

    The programs also compete with private bail bond agencies, which, research has shown, are more effective than pretrial release programs. A study by Eric Helland and Alexander Tabarrok, “The Fugitive: Evidence on Public Versus Private Law Enforcement From Bail Jumping,” shows that individuals who post bail with a private-sector agency are 28 percent less likely to fail to appear before court.

    Heritage’s David Muhlhausen documented the problems with the program during the stimulus debate when liberals wanted to boost spending on it.

    “We have repeat, violent and hardened criminals that we the taxpayers are turning out on the street — and in an alarming number of cases they go on to commit additional crimes,” said Dennis Bartlett, director of the American Bail Coalition. “In fact, many crimes taking place in our communities today are committed by people that we the taxpayers have released from jail through these programs. Among them is Ingmar Gandique, who after being released through taxpayer funded pretrial release, killed Capitol Hill intern Chandra Levy in 2001.“

    Tomorrow at The Bloggers Briefing, a weekly meeting held at Heritage, we’ll talk about the public policy implications of the program. You can tune in at noon Tuesday on Ustream.tv or listen live at BlogTalkRadio.

    Meanwhile, Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Dan Boren (D-OK), have introduced legislation to provide accountability for how taxpayer money is being spent. Their bill would require any pretrial release program receiving federal funding to investigate and collect more information on defendants before they are released from jail.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Taxpayer-Funded Program Puts Criminals on America's Streets

    1. Jack says:

      I have a stepson that has been incarcerated several times. The problem seems to be that when they are released they have no money, no place to live and no job ( and can't get one) so they resort to what they know( Petty crime). We gave ours a home, he finally found a job and has married. He has 4 children and we subsidize their livelyhood which keeps him from going back to petty crime. He has basically no skills, knows nothing about handling money and refuses to learn. Character is a strange word to him. I think the sheriff in Ariz has the answer. Everyone that is incarcerated should work & work hard. They should be taught a skill if possible and only released as an indenture. I don't think that would cost anymore than we are already spending and it may rejuvinate some.

    2. Terry says:

      Congress should pass HR 1885, Ted Poe's bill. To leave this program unaccountable is in-excusable.

    3. Bobbie says:

      not really comforting to have authority compromising rulings of laws in favor of the unlawful to cover up the incompetence of mismanagement within government control where expected priority for the peace and safety of the civil law abiding is not met.
      not comforting at all…

    4. Miss C says:

      In county's like Miami-dade, it is not only legislation changing the laws but ensuring they are enforced daily
      "the citizens right to know act" is being violated, No one is enforcing , the judges play the corrections game, too many inmates avoiding federal fine for going over the jail capacity , so 70% if not more are granted pre-trial without investigation of priors etc….. Before they even see a judge

    5. Luis Escarra says:

      It is very dirty to see your house burglarized and the thug/s that broke into it gets released from jail no later than 24 hours for FREE. The Pretrial release Program has been forcing their way into our community and unfortunately backed up by liberal Judges and commissioners from our local community. “We have repeat, violent and hardened criminals that we the taxpayers are turning out on the street — and in an alarming number of cases they go on to commit additional crimes.
      The Government has to be held responsible for releasing repeated criminals into our streets and the message is clear, "if you get arrested is not a problem we'll (pretrial release will get you out for free)".
      The judicial system will rather see repeated criminals released for free “In fact, many crimes taking place in our communities today are committed by people that we the taxpayers have released from jail through these programs. We need urgently put an end to the troubled Pretrial release program.
      The programs also compete with private bail bond agencies, which, research has shown, are more effective than pretrial release programs. A study by Eric Helland and Alexander Tabarrok,

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    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

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