Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2000-01 Budget Bill
Office of Criminal Justice Planning (8100)

The Office of Criminal Justice Planning (OCJP) provides financial and technical assistance to state agencies, local governments, and the private sector for criminal justice programs such as crime prevention, victim and witness services, law enforcement, and juvenile justice. The OCJP has primary responsibility for the administration of federal criminal justice and victims grant programs, and acts as the grant agency for providing state-administered local assistance.

The budget proposes total expenditures for this office of $318 million in 2000-01, including $147 million from the General Fund. The total budget is a net increase of $51.5 million, or about 19 percent, above estimated current-year expenditures. This increase is due primarily to a proposal for a $100 million local law enforcement equipment grant program (we discuss this proposal in more detail below).

Local Law Enforcement Grants Not Justified

We recommend the Legislature reject the Governor's request for $100.2 million from the General Fund and three positions for the California Law Enforcement Equipment Program and the California School Safety Equipment Program because the department has not provided adequate justification for the proposal.

Background. The 1999-00 Budget Act appropriated $30 million to the OCJP to implement the California Law Enforcement Equipment Program (CLEEP). The objective of this program was to provide one-time competitive grants to law enforcement agencies for the acquisition of equipment, emergency response, and other criminal justice systems. However, seven months after the budget was enacted, CLEEP funds are unspent because OCJP has not yet issued grant applications to local law enforcement agencies.

Budget Proposal. The Governor's budget proposes another one-time General Fund allocation of $100.2 million for a competitive local law enforcement and school safety equipment grant program, which would be allocated as follows:

These funds would be in addition to the $121 million Citizen's Option for Public Safety (COPS) funds proposed for the budget year (for a discussion of the COPS program, see the Local Government Financing budget in the "General Government" chapter later in this Analysis).

Law Enforcement Grant Program Proposal Lacks Important Details. Our review indicates that the proposed program fails to address a number of important issues. For example, the proposal provides no information on such basic issues as:

No Evidence of the Level of Demand for Law Enforcement Equipment Funds. Since grant applications for the CLEEP funds appropriated in the 1999-00 Budget Act have not even been issued, no information is available regarding the level of local law enforcement needs for state assistance in purchasing equipment. Therefore, a large funding increase in the budget year could result in state funds supplanting rather than supplementing local funds for law enforcement equipment, especially since there is no local match requirement.

School Safety Grant Proposal Duplicates Existing Funding. In addition, the proposed $25 million CSSEP is duplicative of an existing school safety grant program that is funded at a higher ongoing amount and has similar objectives. Specifically, the 1999-00 Budget Act appropriated $100 million ($71.1 million ongoing and $28.9 million one-time) to the State Department of Education for school safety grants. These funds are allocated to school districts based on enrollment of pupils in grades 8 to 12, with minimum allocations of $5,000 per school site or $10,000 per district, whichever is greater. These funds may be used for a broad range of purposes that contribute to the provision of safe schools, including on-campus safety devices and partnerships with law enforcement.

Increased OCJP Workload Not Justified. Independent of the problems with the equipment grant program proposal itself, OCJP has not provided documentation which shows that the overall increase in CLEEP funds will result in a higher workload level thereby necessitating three additional staff. Because the OCJP has not issued applications for the current-year CLEEP grants, there is no information about what the workload in the budget year will be and whether existing staff will be sufficient to administer the program.

Analyst's Recommendation. For these reasons, we recommend that the Legislature reject the Governor's request for $100.2 million from the General Fund to support new local law enforcement grants.

Funding for DARE Program Not Justified

We recommend the Legislature delete $1 million requested for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program because this program has not been shown to be effective for reducing drug abuse among young people. We also note that the Office of Criminal Justice Planning expended funds appropriated for the program in the 1999-00 Budget Act in a manner different than what the Legislature had approved.

The DARE program is a national substance abuse prevention program led by police officers, which is directed at elementary and middle school children. The curriculum includes lessons on the dangers of drugs, dealing with peer pressure, and conflict resolution.

The Governor's budget proposes $1 million from the General Fund for support of the DARE program in the budget year. In addition, California DARE programs currently receive financial support from several sources, including the proceeds of voluntary donations on state tax forms and other OCJP drug suppression programs.

DARE Funds Have Not Been Spent in the Manner Approved by the Legislature. The 1999-00 Budget Act appropriated $1 million from the General Fund to provide financial assistance to law enforcement agencies and school districts for the implementation of local DARE programs. However, without the approval of the Legislature, the OCJP changed the method of awarding grants from a competitive grant program, as the Legislature had approved, to a single noncompetitive grant of $1 million to DARE America, Inc., the national nonprofit organization that supports DARE. There is currently no information about how DARE America, Inc., will use the grant monies. Since the original legislative intent, to provide local assistance for drug abuse prevention programs, has not been followed, we question the advisability of additional appropriations for this program.

DARE Has Not Been Shown to Be Effective at Reducing Drug Abuse. More importantly, the DARE program has repeatedly been found in numerous scientific research studies to have little lasting effect on the attitudes or behavior of its participants with regard to drug use. A major 1998 report published by the U.S. Department of Justice stated that there is no scientific evidence which suggests that the DARE core curriculum will reduce substance abuse.

We believe that the state should not provide funds to programs that have been repeatedly found to be ineffective. Rather, if the state wants to direct General Fund resources to drug abuse prevention programs, such funds should be provided to programs that have a proven track record of effectiveness. For example, the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum, which teaches over a long period of time such skills as problem-solving, self-control, and social competence, has been shown to reduce substance abuse.

For these reasons, we recommend the Legislature delete $1 million in General Fund support for the DARE program.

Full Funding for Grant Programs Not Justified

We recommend a reduction of $4.5 million from the General Fund for various local assistance grant programs because program funds allocated in the 1999-00 Budget Act have not been spent and will not be awarded until the end of the current year.

The 1999-00 Budget Act included funding for several public safety local assistance programs to address issues such as elder abuse, rural crime, and high technology crime. However, as of January 2000, no grants have been awarded and no funds have been expended.

This delay in program implementation is the result of several factors, including problems in defining the program, developing grant application packages, and approving grantees. Nevertheless, it is difficult to understand why it is taking so long for these programs to be implemented, since the funds provided for these programs were requested by the administration last year during the budget process.

While these programs have resulted in some administrative costs to OCJP, the balance of funds appropriated for these programs is not likely to be spent by the end of the current year.

Budget Proposal. The budget proposes $8.5 million from the General Fund to continue to support the programs in the budget year. The amounts are the same as the amounts included in the 1999-00 Budget Act. They include:

Analyst's Recommendation. Since funds appropriated for these grant programs will not be awarded until the end of the current fiscal year and the office does not plan to provide grants to new recipients in the budget year, we believe that less than full-year funding will be sufficient to support the grantees in the budget year. We believe that it would be more appropriate to provide partial-year funding for these programs, and recommend that the Legislature reduce each by $1.5 million, for total General Fund savings of $4.5 million.

Capacity to Recruit Evaluation Staff Is Uncertain

We withhold recommendation on $346,000 in federal funds requested to establish four positions in the Program Evaluation Branch, pending receipt of updated information at the time of the May Revision on the office's ability to recruit staff to fill the existing vacancies in the branch.

Budget Proposal. The Governor's budget requests $346,000 in federal funds to establish four new positions in the Program Evaluation Branch. These positions would be funded by redirecting funds from consulting and professional services.

The additional staff positions would enable the OCJP to conduct a greater proportion of its evaluations with in-house staff as opposed to using external consultants. Currently, OCJP contracts with outside consulting services to perform program evaluations. However, contracts with these evaluators expire on July 1, 2000, and the OCJP plans to take over some of these ongoing evaluation projects. There are currently five positions authorized for the branch.

The budget includes full-year funding for the positions, meaning that the office assumes that it can fill the positions at the start of the 2000-01 fiscal year.

Analyst's Concerns. At the time this analysis was prepared, all five existing positions in the branch were vacant. The office advises that it is undertaking an aggressive recruitment effort to fill the vacant positions and believes that it can fill the proposed new positions at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Given the current vacancies and the historically high turnover in this branch, we are concerned that OCJP may not be able to fill the four requested positions, in addition to the five current vacancies. If this were the case, the office would not need the level of funding proposed.

For these reasons, we withhold recommendation on the proposal, pending receipt of information on the office's success in filling the current vacancies at the time of the May Revision.

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