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In recent weeks the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration has been under vicious attack and unfounded criticism. Basically, opponents say the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration has spent billions and not; solved the crime problem. This may make good copy, but is not worthy of any merit. To place these criticisms in their proper perspective, we must remember that all of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration dollars amount to less than 5 percent of total local and State expenditures on criminal justice. Considering the profound nature of human frailty and the existing complexities of overloaded criminal justice agencies, no reasonable human could expect to reverse the soaring growth of crime with relatively few dollars, regardless of the wisdom of the expenditures. Insofar as resources have permitted, I submit that the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration has succeeded. There has been an impact on the incidents of crime and just as important, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration approach has greatly improved the quality of criminal justice in this country. In many instances, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funds have averted disaster in our criminal justice system by relieving the overload of demands on police, prosecutorial, judicial, and correctional institutions.
Let me illustrate from the prosecutor's standpoint how Law Enforcement Assistance Administration programs have improved criminal justice, averted disaster, and reduced crime in the face of contrary national trends.
Discretionary grants benefiting prosecutors' offices are too numerous to mention, but a few examples are as follows. Under Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funds, the National College of District Attorneys was established. Although, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has maintained a fine national law enforcement academy for years, and most State and big city police agencies train well, there has been a complete void in prosecutor training until the establishment of the National College of District Attorneys and the establishment of Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funded State training and educational programs for prosecutors in most of our States. Prosecutors are now receiving training for the first time through opportunities such as the National College which is sponsored by the National College of District Attorneys, the American Bar Association and American College of Trial Lawyers.
Discretionary funding has provided for career criminal programs in 18 prosecutors' offices in the Nation. We have such a program in Houston where professional and dangerous criminal types are given much more attention by our career criminal prosecutor team. Since the institution of the program, most of the defendants have been armed robbers, and the incidents of robbery in Houston have dropped approximately 25 percent. Tougher bail requirements, shorter time between arrest and trial, and average sentences of over 25 years have had a marked effect. We have had the resources to concentrate on those defendants most skilled in postponing cases, intimidating witnesses, and in general, beating the system.
Another most successful project is the economic crimes grant to 15 prosecutors' offices where additional manpower was made available to organize a staff of prosecutors who can specialize in the prosecution of consumer frauds and white collar crimes. Con-men and thieves who used to skip from town to town and State to State and elude the State and local investigational officials are now being brought to justice in large numbers by prosecutors who, through a central resource facility, exchange information about known con-artists and schemes. Information exchange has proved invaluable in a very difficult and complex area of law enforcement.
Another discretionary grant is innovative, but practical, and tends to the long neglected needs of witnesses and victims who are often more abused and inconvenienced by our criminal justice system than indicted defendants. Although our office is not a participant in this grant, we hope to begin a program soon based on the blueprints of previous successes.
BLOCK GRANT FUNDS
Here, priorities are determined by local councils and State planning councils as provided by Law Enforcement Assistance Administration guidelines. Since the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration does not dictate in any way to State and local grantees, the planning that must occur when criminal justice agencies sit around the table discussing problems and make tough priority decisions is a real milestone in the history and progress of local justice agencies. Prior to the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, there was little coordination and even less understanding of each other's problems and functions. Now agencies are coming to realize that all must pull together for a just and effective enforcement of the law, and further, that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link with the trend being that the highest priority will go to the weaker parts of the system.
Block grant planning and State plans are excellent ideas, and we have been fortunate in the expertise of the staff of our State justice agency.
Through coordination of the local units of government and State plans, our office has received grants to begin a division which deals with the prosecution of organized crime and major frauds. After several years of operation, our local unit of government, the county, has picked up most of the personnel so that today we can vigorously pursue auto theft rings (one $6 million ring recently), hired killing conspirators, narcotic traffickers, burglar rings, receivers in stolen goods and organized gambling and prostitution activities. Also, for the first time, we have had manpower to investigate complex business frauds, embezzlement, and the like. Generally, local law enforcement agencies have no certified public accountants or attorneys to investigate complex schemes involving bank and business records. We fill a very necessary purpose which several years ago went undone for lack of expertise and manpower. There are two points to stress here: (1) the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration grant enabled us to perform vital services which otherwise would have been neglected, and (2) the county now has taken over financially. The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration grant did not create a 3-year wonder which disappeared, but made a major and lasting contribution to our local criminal justice system.
Another recent grant established a screening division which goes over every case before it is filed by local police agencies or citizens. This saves many hours of court time and police manpower by weeding our unprosecutable cases in advance. Previously almost any charge was accepted by a justice of the peace clerk, regardless of the quality of the case. Our intake and screening division keeps experienced prosecutors on duty 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and these professionals draft highly technical search warrants and warrants of arrest. An invalid warrant can negate' an otherwise successful prosecution of a murderer or dope dealer. I could go on and on with examples of grants to prosecutors' offices, and most of these are bread and butter services—not frills—that are needed to enforce the law effectively and justly.
What has been said for prosecution grants is equally true of grants to the police, judicial, and correctional institutions. Our own judiciary has been beefed up by additional temporary courts to reduce time from arrest to trial, as well as court coordinator programs to utilize existing court facilities to the fullest. The list goes on and on, and there is so much yet that remains to be done. Sentencing for example is an area where we have not yet scratched the surface. You may wish to read “Thinking About Crime" by James Wilson for an excellent treatise on where we are in criminal justice today.
With limited funding, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funds have moved our prosecution and our judiciary from the horse and buggy stage to the model A. This trite comparison corresponds to the funding to date. We haven't tried to build the jet airliner.
Only a modest step has been undertaken which has properly retained the philosophy that law enforcement is primarily a State and local responsibility.
Please don't take the engine from the model A. Let's don't return to the horse and buggy. Any substantial reduction will gut our programs whether it's some of the existing discretionary grants or the bread and butter necessities to keep the pace and avoid chaos due to a spiraling crime rate.
Finally, as a citizen, I ask your help. Last year I paid approximately $10,000 in Federal taxes. At the same time, I paid only $100 in county taxes. Now I don't want you to raise taxes to pay for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. Nor do the vast majority of people want our county to raise taxes. Government is too big and too complicated. But if crime is our No. 1 internal problem, it certainly appears reasonable to me as a citizen and taxpayer to ask that you allot at least in the neighborhood of $1 billion to the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration to go back to our local law enforcement efforts. After all, this is only a small percent of our Federal budget. I know your problems are more complex than those of my commissioners, but my $100 in county taxes supports roads and bridges and social agencies and all kinds of governmental services, too. My county must also support the entire State and local criminal justice system with the exception of city police and State prisons. These Federal dollars belong to all the people and a few more, not less, should return to support our judges, our jail, our sheriff's office, our prosecutors, our clerks, our probation offices, our pre-trail release personnel, our psychiatric units, our half-way houses, our juvenile programs, and our new data processing program to keep up with 20,000 felonies a year. All of these county financed agencies have benefited through the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, a proven and established agency. Let's improve it not destroy it.
NATIONAL DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION
I would also like to submit for the record a resolution of the National District Attorneys Association from a board of directors meeting
Senator PASTORE. Without objector, it is so ordered. [The information follows:
NATIONAL DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
WHEREAS, law enforcement and other criminal justices agencies have demonstrated acute needs for assistance in the development and implementation of projects and programs to combat criminal activities; and
WHEREAS, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration has been created by the Congress through enactment of the Safe Streets and Crime Control Act of 1968 to provide such assistance; and
WHEREAS, the primary responsibility of crime control is vested in state and local government; and
WHEREAS, to prevent crime and to insure the greater safety of United States citizens, state and local law enforcement and criminal justice efforts must be better unified and coordinated, more efficiently administered, and more effectively operated at all levels of government; and
WHEREAS, there is pending before Congress legislation which will authorize the continuation and funding of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration; and
WHEREAS, the continued infusion of federal funds at an undiminished level into the Criminal Justice System on both state and local levels is necessary and vital to encourage, support and maintain important existing and innovative programs designed to enhance the Administration of Criminal Justice.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National District Attorneys Association strongly urges the Congress to promptly enact legislation which will authorize the continued existance of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration for at least a three year period; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that such legislation provide for no reduction in the present level of funding; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National District Attorneys Association urges that such legislation not mandate the creation of judicial planning councils nor specially fund such descipline as a separate entity, which would fragment efforts to coordinate the functions and activities of the criminal justice system; and
LASTLY, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National District Attorneys Association urges that such legislation give the Attorney General of the United States the responsibility for setting policy and establishing a national advisory board to review priorities and proposals for discretionary and research grants of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have unanimously caused this resolution to be duly adopted this 14th day of May, 1976.
LOUIS P. BERGNA
ARTHUR A. MARSHALL, JR.