Counties to be Burdened with Extra Costs after DOJ Announces Policy Change for Funding
Cal County News, June 20, 2012On top of the added burden created by realignment and overcrowding, now counties are set to lose funding from the U.S. Department of Justice thanks to federal cuts. A new policy change announced last month means that counties will no longer receive federal reimbursements for the cost of detaining jail inmates with unknown immigration status.
The loss of State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) funds doesn’t come at an ideal time for counties, so local officials have expressed displeasure with the change. Counties are basically being put in a position in which they are bearing the financial burden, which critics say is unfair because the duty to secure the borders falls to the federal government and a deficit in that respect has left counties with the high cost of housing, food, and medical care for illegals in jails. Here is the language offered under the new policy by the Bureau of Justice:
“In order to make better use of limited SCAAP funding and to ensure jurisdictions are reimbursed only for known undocumented criminal aliens, BJA will no longer provide reimbursement for inmates whose statuses are unknown. Accordingly, only detention costs of undocumented criminal aliens, whose statuses can be confirmed by DHS as such, will be counted towards the SCAAP awards in FY 2012.”
The potential loss of funding comes at a time when county jails are already struggling with the effects of Assembly Bill 109, the state prison realignment program designed to ease prison overcrowding.
The program shifts the supervision of released low-level inmates to counties to ease overcrowding in the state's prisons.
Tony Bell, spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, called the proposed federal cuts disconcerting.
"It's an additional burden the county faces, on top of realignment, overcrowding," he said. "It goes on and on." ...