Legislative Analyst's Office
Analysis of the 2002-03 Budget Bill
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 Governor's budget proposes total expenditures of $265 million for OCJP in 2002-03, including $72.4 million from the General Fund. The total budget reflects a net decrease of $52 million, or about 16 percent, below estimated current-year expenditures. Despite this overall decrease, the Governor's budget proposes to maintain significant local assistance programs such as the Gang Violence Suppression Program at previous levels of funding. We discuss this issue in more detail below.
We recommend that the Legislature adopt supplemental report language requiring the Office of Criminal Justice Planning to conduct an outcome evaluation of the Gang Violence Suppression Program and to report its findings as well as steps it is taking to ensure that grantees submit accurate data by January 10, 2003.
Background. Chapter 1030, Statutes of 1981 (AB 788, Martinez) established the Gang Violence Suppression Program. Under existing law, the OCJP administers the program by providing grants and technical assistance to local agencies to reduce gang violence. There are five components to the program; prosecution, law enforcement, probation, prevention, and education.
The prevention component trains school personnel in gang awareness, gang suppression, and gang prevention strategies. The law enforcement component enhances police and sheriff departments efforts to investigate and arrest identified gang members. The probation component establishes an intensive supervision unit for gang members on probation. District attorneys' offices provide "vertical prosecution" of gang members whereby one attorney follows the case throughout the court process.
Budget Request. The Governor's budget requests $5.6 million for the Gang Violence Suppression Program which includes $4.6 million from the General Fund and $1 million in federal funds. Since 1991, OCJP has provided more than $57 million for this program including $48.6 million from the General Fund and $9.1 million in federal funds.
Overall Reductions in Gang Violence Not Demonstrated. The OCJP has administered the Gang Violence Suppression Program since 1984, but cannot provide information on the program's effectiveness. For example, OCJP could not provide information on conviction rates in the counties that received funds for prosecutions nor could it provide information on the change in gang related crimes in schools that receive these funds. Finally, we would note that OCJP was unable to show that funds were awarded to the communities that could benefit the most from this program. For example, OCJP could not demonstrate that its grantees have higher rates of gang violence than other communities in the state. Without this information, the Legislature can have no assurance that the funds are being used in the most effective manner.
Information from Grantees Inadequate. Under the program, grantees are required to submit information to justify continued funding. According to OCJP, this information is inaccurate. Based upon our review of information provided by OCJP, we estimate that out of 54 Gang Violence Suppression grantees reviewed, 67 percent were reporting inaccurate information. These grantees were either over-reporting, under-reporting, or unable to provide documentation to verify their numbers.
Analyst's Recommendation. For these reasons we recommend that the Legislature adopt supplemental report language requiring OCJP to conduct an outcome evaluation for the Gang Violence Suppression Program and report its findings to the Legislature by January 10, 2003. We further recommend that OCJP report on steps it is taking to ensure that data submitted by grantees is accurate and that source documentation is available. We believe that these activities can be absorbed by existing staff in OCJP's evaluation unit.
Recent Trends in Gang-Related Violence. A 1998 report released by the California Department of Justice indicates that gang related homicides have been declining. The reasons for this decrease are unknown. An outcome evaluation of the Gang Violence Suppression Program would help determine whether this program, or programs of similar design, have contributed to this decline.