Budgeting issues in criminal justice administration (California)

California as a state has been faced with various challenges in the administration of justice. Because of this, the local government together with the state has opted for notable policy improvements that will help in addressing some of the challenges. This paper is going to look into the proposed changes and how they will help them overcome these challenges and deliver good results to the citizens.

Current budgeting issues in administration of criminal justice in California
The state of Californias success in rehabilitation of juvenile offenders and adults who are addicted to drugs has been poor for years despite the huge amount of money that is being used in the exercise. It is approximated that 200,000 is spent in a year to take care of a juvenile offender in a correctional facility. Although it meant to rehabilitate them, almost 50 percent of them are brought back to the state facility 3 years after they have been released. Poor results have also been recorded from the states in-prison substance abuse programs for adults. This is due to poor local government programs and policies that could not be able to properly address the underlying issues (Nafisi  Conner, 2005)

According to Champion (1994), to address the issue, notable policy improvements have been made over the last 20 years through review of state and regional government programs and rearrangement of duties to different levels of government that are able to deliver high-quality result .The Governors budget proposal for 2009-10, intend to shift funding for some programs in the criminal justice department to a local level. It has come up with a policy-driven rearrangement of approximately 1.4 billion US dollars state duties to counties to be put in place. Particularly, the proposal proposes that the young and adult offenders charged with crimes of drug trafficking be moved to the counties. These counties could be charged with the responsibility of taking care of the programs aimed at both juvenile offenders and adult drug addicts (Bouza, 1990)

Its recommended that financing of the programs is to be achieved through increase of vehicle licensing fees (VLF) rate by 1 percent. This could result in an increase in revenue by  1.1 billion and out of the already existing VLF revenues 359 million will also be redirected to the program. The department of motor vehicle is also expected to increase the annual registration fees by  12 which will be redirected to a new criminal justice realignment fund. This proposal will see a shift of responsibilities between the state and local justice. As a result, the government will be able to reduce the annual expenditure by approximately 1.4 billion US dollars. This could lead to delivery of better services for both young and adult offenders and a more reliable repayment stream to local management for mandates could be able to be put in place (Mameli, 2005)

Under this realignment program, counties will be fully responsible for juvenile offender programs and corresponding financial responsibilities. They will also be responsible financially in paying back the division of juvenile facilities (DJF). In adult offender account, punishment and treatment of the adult offenders will also be under the counties. They will use the resources in the account to cater for expenses that arise while these individuals are in jail or being rehabilitated in treatment facilitiescommunity.

Currently, juvenile justice programs are managed partially by counties and the government. County test departments mainly oversee all juvenile offenders brought to the justice system and more often than not control majority of juveniles who are determined to commit crime. They are usually supervised in group homes or in secure facilities such as camps during probation supervision. Responsibility of taking care of most serious offenders is left to the state where by it houses them in facilities that are managed by Division of Juvenile facilities. After these juveniles are released, the division of juvenile facilities parole agents supervises them (Moyer, 2004)

Funding of juvenile justice programs is equally divided between the government and the counties. Counties partly incur the costs used in running probation departments and the rest is taken care of by the   division of juvenile facilities. The state on the other hand pays for most of the division of juvenile facilities costs and supports various grant programs run by county juvenile division. The shifting of key juvenile offender programs to counties together with the general decline of juvenile crime rates has seen a steep decline in the population currently in the Division of juvenile facilities by almost 8,300 (Friedman  Fisher1997)

Under the proposed program where the government will shift full responsibility of young offenders to local government, the juvenile offender programs will change in many ways.

They Include
Identification of effective and ineffective programs will be made easy. This will make sure that necessary measures are taken to ensure that those programs that are not of benefit to the offenders are gotten rid of.

It will facilitate closer supervision of offenders due to the decline in the number of case loads. In addition, the county officers will be able to acquire more knowledge about the neighboring community and the type of treatments available for victims of drug abuse. It will also expand resources that juvenile offenders may be in need of such as education together with job placement resources.

Counties will have full control of their finances something that will give them an opportunity to come up with long term plans aimed at improving their programs and facilities. As a result of financial control being shifted to the county level, it will be able to have a long time plan that could enable them improve on their programs and facilities in general.

Currently, the state and the counties share the responsibility of taking care of adults who are convicted of drug abuse. Majority of the victims that are found guilty are sentenced to jail within the counties, put into probation or given other types of penalties. However, some offenders who are eligible for state programs and sanctions are sent to state prisons (Reamer, 2003)

Under the proposed criminal justice realignment, the responsibility of punishing or treating victims who are convicted of drug abuse will be changed from the state to counties. Also those offenders under civil narcotic addicts and those (DUI) driving under influence will also benefit from the program. Its recommended to the government to change the law to allow above crimes (narcotic addicts, drug possession and driving under influence) can be classified as misdemeanors. It is suggested that individuals guilty of the above crimes should either be put under probation, allocated to residential treatment or be held in county jailsother relevant facilities within the county. This will give counties an opportunity to expand their services to offenders with substance abuse problems and thereby determine their funds are used in imprisonment, alternative sanction and drug alcohol treatment (Baer  Moore, 2003)

According to Nagel (2000), shifting of responsibility from the government to the counties will see an increase in the safety of the general public and reduced substance abuse through combined program accountability together with encouraging innovation. This is likely to lead to reduce offender recidivism, counties will have more finances to provide the much needed services and it will also prioritize prison space by detaining more aggressive and stern offenders.

It has been found that in order, to improve public safety, crimes should be able to be prevented before they occur. Through well run programs that are aimed at rehabilitating drug and young offenders, future crimes can be prevented. Hence it is important for the government to consider Legislature realignment and improve state-county relationship as this could help in bringing the required reforms in the justice system.


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