LAO Analysis of the 1996-97 Budget Bill
Judiciary and Criminal Justice Crosscutting Issues

Federal Crime Bill Funding for California

On September 13, 1994, President Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (the federal "crime bill"). The bill contained funding authority totaling $30.2 billion for more than 60 different law enforcement, prison construction, and crime prevention programs over six years. On September 27, 1994, we published a policy brief entitled The Federal Crime Bill: What Will it Mean for California?

In this Analysis, we provide an update on the status of the implementation of the federal crime bill since the release of our policy brief. In addition, we compare the crime bill with the changes to its provisions contained in the recent federal appropriations bill passed by the Congress. Although the President vetoed the appropriations bill, it seems likely that many of its provisions will eventually be enacted because in his veto message he identified only limited concerns with its provisions. The enactment of this bill, or one with similar provisions, would result in significant changes in the amounts and uses of federal funds provided to California for crime programs. The Legislature, in turn, will need to reflect its priorities in appropriating these funds.

California Receives New Federal Funds

California law enforcement agencies have already received federal crime bill grant awards exceeding $100 million to fund almost 1,300 new law enforcement personnel. In addition, counties have received almost $3 million for planning, renovation, or construction of corrections "boot camps." California has also received federal funds for the costs of incarcerating undocumented felons.


The federal crime bill contained a variety of provisions including, increased penalties for federal crimes, additional federal law enforcement personnel, and most importantly to the state, funding authority for local law enforcement, prison construction, and crime prevention. The bill provides funding authority totaling $30.2 billion over a six-year period, ending in federal fiscal year (FFY) 2000 (state fiscal year 2000-2001). The actual funding levels for each year will be determined through the annual federal appropriations process.

Funding is awarded to states and local governments on either a formula basis or through a competitive application process to receive project grants. Many of the current crime bill's grant programs are aimed at the local level. For example, local law enforcement agencies are the primary recipients of the "Cops on the Beat" law enforcement grants, authorized for $8.8 billion (we discuss the "Cops on the Beat" program later in this Analysis). Most of the crime bill's prevention grant funds can be applied for directly by local governments and community-based organizations. The major share of federal grant monies going to state government will be for prison construction grant programs, which are authorized starting in FFY 96. Consequently, these funds will not be available until the FFY 96 appropriations process is complete.

State's Lead Agency.In 1995, the Governor designated, by executive order, the Office of Criminal Justice Planning (OCJP) as the state agency responsible for coordinating the state's implementation of the federal crime bill. The OCJP's responsibilities under the executive order include: (1) working with state agencies to ensure the receipt of a "fair share" of federal funding; (2) recommending policies and procedures to the Governor to ensure the state receives its fair share of funding; (3) providing technical assistance to state and local agencies to compete for funds; (4) working with state agencies to designate the appropriate agencies within California to implement the federal crime bill; and (5) reporting to the Governor. The 1995 Budget Act required that the OCJP report to the Legislature by January 10, 1996 on the amount of federal funds available for 1996-97 under the crime bill and the administration's proposed uses for these funds.

The OCJP advised the Legislature on January 9, 1996 that it needed an extension of the deadline. Because the federal appropriations process for FFY 96 is not yet complete, the OCJP indicated that it did not have sufficient information to determine the amount of funds the state would receive in 1996-97 and thus could not describe how the administration proposed the federal funds to be used.

Federal Appropriations for 1995 Were Lower Than Authorized

The crime bill authorized funding for 17 programs for FFY 95, totaling $2.9 billion. Federal appropriations for FFY 95, however, provided funds for only 11 programs (ten state and local programs and one for federal agencies), totaling $2.3 billion, or about 20 percent less than the amounts authorized for the first year.

Figure 4 compares federal authorizations with appropriations for the tenprograms that provide grants to state or local agencies. The figure shows the amounts that California agencies were awarded, and which types of agencies benefited.

Figure 4
Federal Crime Bill Funding
For State and Local Agencies
FFY 1995
(In Millions)
ProgramaAuthorized Appropriated California Sharea Potential Recipients
Community Policing "Cops on the Beat" $1,300.0 $1,300.0 $101.8Local
Implementation of the "Brady Bill" 100.0 100.0 -- State
Undocumented Alien Felon Incarceration Grants 130.0 130.0 78.4Stateb
Boot Camp --c 24.5 2.9State/local
Byrne Memorial Grants 580.0 450.0 47.4State
Drug Courts 100.0 29.0 1.9Local
Violent Crimes Against Women 26.0 26.0 0.5Local
Ounce of Prevention Grants 1.5 1.5 0.2Local
Family and Community
Endeavor School Grants
37.0 25.9 3.1Local
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.0 1.0 NA Nonprofits
Totals $2,275.5 $2,087.9 $236.2
a Includes only crime bill programs that received FFY 1995 appropriation.
b Data from the United States Department of Justice and the Office of Criminal Justice Planning.
c Authorizations for this grant are part of the larger prison construction grants.
NA- Not Applicable

The amounts shown for California for Byrne Memorial Grants (used to fund local and statewide anti-drug enforcement), Violence Against Women grants, and costs for incarceration of undocumented felons were determined on the basis of a specific formula. The amounts shown for "boot camp" programs, which were awarded on a competitive basis, were granted to eight counties in August 1995. The awards range from $30,099 to Orange County for planning to $1.9 million to Fresno County for construction of a boot camp.

The amounts shown for the "Cops on the Beat" program are three-year awards, reflecting the total amount of money the grantee agencies will receive over three years. For the remaining programs, we relied on federal information for the amounts of grant funding received by California.

California's "Cops On the Beat" Share

As Figure 4 shows, the largest appropriation for FFY 95 is for federal assistance for state and local law enforcement agencies through the "Cops on the Beat" program. The intent of the program is to provide funding to hire police officers and increase their involvement in the community. The crime bill authorizes the United States Attorney General to make grants to states and local governments, and other public and private entities, such as transit districts, school districts, and college police departments.

Grant Restrictions. Under the grant requirements, law enforcement agencies can use some funds for equipment and training but the bulk of the grant has to be used for hiring police officers. In addition, the grants are limited to three years; the recipient agency must provide a 25 percent funding match; and the grant is limited to paying no more than $25,000 per year towards officer salaries and benefits.

Because the grants are limited to three years, recipient agencies will have to shoulder the full costs of the newly hired officers after the grant period, or eliminate the positions. There are no federal funds available to directly offset the other criminal justice system costs, which are likely to arise as a result of adding street-level law enforcement officers. These additional costs would include courts, jails, and probation.

California's Share. As of January 1996, 361 California law enforcement agencies had received federal "Cops on the Beat" grants. Grant recipients include 313 police departments, 43 county sheriffs' departments, 4 tribal police agencies, and 1 transit district. The grants total $101.8 million (to be dispersed over three years), and will add an estimated 1,295 law enforcement officers. In addition, the local agencies who were awarded grants will have to spend at least $25 million during the grant period to meet their share of cost requirements.

Grants to individual law enforcement agencies varied from the largest--totaling $3.7 million to the Los Angeles County Sheriff for 49 new officers--to a number of small city police departments which received grants of $75,000 for one officer each.

Although California law enforcement agencies have benefited from this grant program, we believe that the state is unlikely to receive as large a share of further funding allocations. This is because many of the California law enforcement agencies that have received funds had already decided to add more officers before the funds became available. Those who had not already made such a decision are not likely to see the potential additional federal funds as sufficient incentive to incur a large share of costs or future full costs. Furthermore, one-third of all of California's eligible law enforcement agencies (three-quarters of all sheriffs' departments) have already received grants.

Has the "Cops on the Beat" Program Had an Impact? It is still too early to measure the benefits of this federal program. Evaluators will have to determine if the agencies that received grants would have added new personnel regardless of the program. In addition, program evaluators will have to determine if adding new personnel for "community policing" is the most effective use of additional law enforcement resources.

However, we can make some preliminary observations on the impact of the program in California. Over one-third of eligible California agencies have received grants and have added new personnel. However, the number of new law enforcement officers added represents an increase of less than 2 percent of the total existing sworn officers statewide. For some small agencies, the addition of a single officer can have a significant impact but for a large agency, such as the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, the added deputies constitute an increase of less than 1 percent of its sworn officers.

Furthermore, although the program provides California with more than $100 million over the next three years, the amount is a fraction of the total annual expenditures for law enforcement agencies in California--more than $6 billion in 1993-94.

Pending Federal Legislation Could Significantly Change California's Share of Funds

Congress passed, but the President vetoed, an appropriations bill that would significantly change current crime bill provisions. The bill changes how local law enforcement grants are distributed and eliminates many crime prevention programs contained in the crime bill.

In December 1995, the Congress sent to the President H.R. 2076, the FFY 96 appropriations bill for the federal Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State. This bill is one of the 13 appropriations bills that, when enacted, constitute the federal budget. Contained in this appropriations bill were not only monies for a variety of programs authorized in the crime bill, but also several significant changes to the provisions of the crime bill. The President vetoed H.R. 2076 on December 19, 1995.

Presidential Veto Message. In his veto message, President Clinton noted that he found the proposals related to a new law enforcement block grant program (described below) unacceptable, because it "would not guarantee a single new police officer." He stated that he would not sign an appropriations bill that did not continue the "Cops on the Beat" program as a discretionary grant program as previously authorized.

In late January 1996, the Congress passed, and the President signed, legislation that provides funding for the federal government, including justice programs, through March 15, 1996. The funding for crime bill programs is limited to 75 percent of FFY 95 levels and no new grant awards are allowed. This legislation provides no funding for prison construction. This measure is temporary and the Congress and President will still need to agree to a plan that funds justice programs for the remainder of FFY 96.

Because the President's objections to the changes in the crime bill provisions were relatively specific and limited, we believe that many of the proposed changes are likely to be enacted eventually, especially those related to prison construction and funding for incarcerating undocumented felons. These changes could be part of H.R. 2076 or incorporated into other appropriations legislation for FFY 96. The following sections describe the changes contained in H.R. 2076 and their potential impact on California. We also describe areas where the Governor's Budget for 1996-97 proposes funding that is similar to that contained in the pending federal bill.

Proposed Funding and Changes in Grants

For FFY 96, the crime bill contained authorizations for $4.3 billion in grants to states and local agencies. In contrast, H.R. 2076 would appropriate approximately $3.8 billion for state and local criminal justice programs for FFY 96. Part of the difference between the amount authorized in the crime bill and the amount appropriated in H.R. 2076 stems from changes in funding priorities. In addition, H.R. 2076 appropriates funding for some programs that were not part of the original crime bill. We estimate that the state's share of these appropriations could total more than $780 million for FFY 96, if H.R. 2076 is enacted. Below we discuss the differences between the crime bill and H.R. 2076 regarding support for local law enforcement, prisons, incarceration for undocumented immigrants, and prevention programs.

Local Law Enforcement Block Grants

The H.R. 2076 would eliminate the "Cops on the Beat" program established by the crime bill and would replace it with a program that was proposed in the "Contract with America."

Amount of Funding.Based on the appropriation contained in H.R. 2076, California's share of block grant funding would total over $320 million for FFY 96. This amount is significantly higher than what California could expect under the current crime bill. (As we indicated earlier, California law enforcement agencies have already been awarded more than $100 million under the current crime bill covering a three-year period, and are unlikely to receive significantly more.) Based on the proposed authorizations in H.R. 2076 for FFY 97 through FFY 2000, California would receive an additional $1.2 billion from this program, if it is enacted and is fully funded in each year.

Allocation of Funds.One of the major differences between the crime bill and H.R. 2076 is the way in which funds for local law enforcement would be allocated. Under the crime bill, funds would be awarded based on a competitive application process, available only to agencies who meet specific requirements. Under H.R. 2076, however, funds would be disbursed to states and, in turn, local law enforcement agencies, based on an allocation formula. Thus, H.R. 2076 would authorize payments to every qualified "unit of local government," instead of limiting grants to local agencies that compete for grants. Based on the definitions contained in H.R. 2076, counties in California are likely to be the designated unit of government and each would probably receive a grant. These funds could be used by all law enforcement agencies within the county, including city police departments.

Each state's share of funding under H.R. 2076 would be based on its ratio of violent crime compared to the nation as a whole so that states with higher rates of crime are targeted to receive more funds. Funding within the state would be allocated proportionately based on population.

To qualify for funding, the county government would have to form a local advisory board that includes representatives from local police, sheriffs, prosecutors, courts, public schools, and community groups. The local advisory board would prepare an application and "non-binding" recommendations for the use of block grants.

Use of Funds.The crime bill and H.R. 2076 not only distribute law enforcement funds differently, but the uses of the funds differ between the two measures. While law enforcement agencies can use some of the funds under the crime bill for equipment and training, the bulk of the grant has to be used for hiring police officers. By contrast, H.R. 2076 provides that funds can be used for:

Maintenance-of-Effort and Matching Requirements.The H.R. 2076 contains a maintenance-of-effort (MOE) requirement that law enforcement expenditures remain at 90 percent of previous years' expenditures. In addition, H.R. 2076 requires that local governments provide a 10 percent match. The crime bill's MOE provision requires that the number of law enforcement officers added must be maintained through the grant period. It also requires that recipients of funds provide a 25 percent match.

Governor's Proposal for Local Law Enforcement. The Governor's Budget proposes a program to provide additional funding for local law enforcement. The "Citizens' Option for Public Safety" (COPS) proposal would allow taxpayers to designate 1 percent of their personal income tax liability be directed for local law enforcement. The budget estimates that this proposal could yield up to $150 million annually of additional funding for local law enforcement. The Governor's proposal does not indicate how his proposal might interact with the federal proposals. For example, could the state monies be used to meet the federal matching requirement? (We discuss the COPS proposal in detail in The 1996-97 Budget: Perspectives and Issues.)

Prison Construction Grants

Amount of Funds.The federal crime bill authorized $7.7 billion for prison construction while H.R. 2076 would authorize $10.3 billion. For FFY 96, H.R. 2076 would appropriate $997.5 million for prison construction nationwide. Figure 5 compares the amounts for prison construction authorized in the crime bill and in H.R. 2076. In addition, the figure shows our estimate of California's share of funding if the maximum amount of funds authorized by H.R. 2076 were appropriated. As the figure shows, we estimate that the state could receive about $80 million in FFY 96 under H.R. 2076. Under the crime bill, we estimate the state would have received about $65 million. The Governor's Budget assumes that the state will receive $27 million in federal funds for this purpose in 1996-97. (Please see the Capital Outlay chapter in this Analysis.)

Figure 5
Prison Construction
Grants Authorizations
(In Billions)
H.R 2076
FFYCurrent Lawa Nationwide California
1996 $0.75 $1.00 $0.08
1997 1.00 1.33 0.15
1998 1.90 2.53 0.28
1999 2.00 2.66 0.30
2000 2.07 2.75 0.31
Totals $7.72 $10.27 $1.12
a Federal crime bill.
Note: Under both current law and proposed legislation, the amount of funding available in each fiscal year is subject to the annual federal appropriations process.

Allocation of Funds.The H.R. 2076 contains a specific formula for allocating funding for prison construction. Of the monies appropriated, one-third would be allocated to states without "Truth-In-Sentencing" laws (laws that require that violent inmates must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence) and the remaining two-thirds would be allocated to states with such laws. The crime bill did not specifically identify the allocation formula for states. California has a truth-in-sentencing law and would qualify for participation in the larger "pot" of funding authorized in the measure. The President, in his veto message, did not identify any problems with these provisions.

Use of Funds.The H.R. 2076, unlike the crime bill, allows up to 15 percent of a state's prison construction grant amounts to be made available for localjail construction. Although this could set up competition for federal funds between the state and counties, the changes could be beneficial to counties because of the need to relieve overcrowding in county jail facilities. Currently, 28 county jail systems--accounting for over 70 percent of all of statewide jail beds--are under court-ordered population caps. Thus, these jails frequently must release offenders prior to the end of their jail sentence in order to meet court requirements.

The H.R. 2076, unlike the crime bill, also specifies that funding can be used to build or expand "temporary" facilities, such as the state's proposed $133 million emergency bed program at the Department of Corrections (CDC). Finally, H.R. 2076 includes provisions allowing states to construct facilities to house juvenile offenders. Such funds could be used by the Department of the Youth Authority to fund its requested construction of 1,450 new beds to accommodate overcrowding.

Matching Requirements.In contrast to current provisions, H.R. 2076 would reduce the state match from 25 percent to 10 percent. California's match would decrease from $20 million to about $8 million.

Governor's Prison Construction Proposals. The administration is proposing bond measures for the construction of state prisons ($1.9 billion) and beds for wards at the Youth Authority ($150 million). In addition, the administration is putting forth proposals for the construction of local juvenile facilities ($150 million). The administration has not identified what impact enactment of H.R. 2076, or similar legislation, would have on its proposals.

Funding for Incarceration of Undocumented Felons

The H.R. 2076 includes an appropriation of $500 million in FFY 96 for the costs of incarcerating undocumented immigrant felons. Based on prior allocations, California's share of this appropriation should be approximately $310 million. The bill also authorizes payments for incarcerating undocumented felons for FFY 97 through FFY 2000 of up to $650 million in each year. The actual amounts provided to the state would depend on the annual federal appropriations process.

It is important to note that local governments, in addition to states, would be allowed under H.R. 2076 to claim part of the state's total share of funds for local incarceration costs. Because California's county jails house a significant number of undocumented immigrants, it is unknown how much of California's share of this appropriation would go to defray the CDC's and the Youth Authority's costs, and how much would be available for counties. The President's veto message does not identify any problems with the funding contained in H.R. 2076 for incarcerating undocumented immigrants. (We discuss federal funding for undocumented felons in our analysis of the CDC in this chapter of the Analysis.)

Crime Prevention Programs and Other Changes

The H.R. 2076 would eliminate 13 of the crime prevention programs contained in current law--reducing federal funding authorizations by $900 million for FFY 96 through FFY 2000. The elimination of these programs "pays" for the proposed increases for law enforcement and prison construction grants. Elimination of these programs could result in California receiving several hundreds of millions of dollars less than it might otherwise receive under current law. Figure 6 (see page 24) shows which programs H.R. 2076 would eliminate.

The President noted in his veto message that H.R. 2076 "unwisely abandons crime prevention efforts." The message specifically notes the elimination of drug courts funding. Whether the President will ultimately refuse to sign any bill that eliminates these programs is unknown.

Other Proposed Changes. In addition to changes to grant programs, H.R. 2076 would amend federal law, significantly restricting the ability of inmates to file lawsuits. Most inmate lawsuits are filed in federal court under provisions of federal law. This results in significant costs to the state. For example, for 1996-97, the CDC and the Department of Justice have budgeted over $12 million to defend the state against lawsuits filed by inmates.

Overall Impact on California

The H.R. 2076, as passed by Congress, would significantly benefit local law enforcement agencies. Specifically, the measure would result in significantly more monies to California for local law enforcement than would be available through the "Cops on the Beat" program. In addition, local governments might also benefit if jail construction funds and funding for housing undocumented immigrants become available. Further, the state would, under H.R. 2076, receive significant funding for prison construction and the incarceration of undocumented felons. However, local governments and community-based organizations, and nonlaw enforcement local government agencies could lose, if the proposed elimination of crime prevention grants is adopted.

Figure 6
Federal Crime Bill Programs Proposed for Eliminationa
FFY 1996-2000
(In Millions)
Program Authorizationb Estimated
California Share
Local Partnership Program $1,620.0 $200.0
Drug Courts 1,000.0 120.0
Family and Community Endeavor School Grants 809.9 80.0
Crime Prevention Model Intensive Grants 625.5 40.0
Local Crime Prevention Block Grants 377.0 56.0
National Community Economic Partnership 270.0 --
Ounce of Prevention Grants 90.0 10.0
Community-Based Justice Grants 50.0 5.0
Gang Resistance Education & Training 45.0 4.0
Assistance for Delinquent and At-Risk Youth 36.0 4.0
Police Recruitment 24.0 2.0
Family Unity Grants 19.8 2.0
Capital Improvements for Parks 4.5 0.4
Totals $4,971.7 $523.4
a Proposed for elimination under the H.R. 2076 legislation.
b Crime bill.

What Should the Legislature Do?

We recommend that the Legislature establish its funding priorities for the use of federal crime bill funds in 1996-97. We also recommend the Department of Finance report during budget hearings on the status of the federal appropriations for crime programs. In addition, we recommend the adoption of Budget Bill language directing the Office of Criminal Justice Planning to report on the state plans for use of the funds. Further, we recommend that the Legislature consider the relationship between H.R. 2076, or similar legislation, and the administration's proposals for local law enforcement and prison construction.

Status of Federal Funding.At the time this analysis was prepared, federal appropriations to fund state criminal justice programs in the budget year had not been enacted. In addition, Congress had passed, and the President had vetoed, H.R. 2076, which would make significant changes in the federal crime bill. Given the current uncertainty regarding these federal funds, we recommend that the Department of Finance report at budget hearings on the status of the federal appropriations for crime programs.

Planning for California's Share of Crime Funding.As we noted in our September 1994 policy brief, we believe the Legislature and the administration should have an overall state strategy for implementing the crime bill and using any subsequent appropriations in California. This is especially true if H.R. 2076, or a similar measure, is enacted.

Specifically, we recommend that the Legislature take the following steps:

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