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DOJ pressing for more funds to help fight violent crime

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush will request an additional $200 million dollars in federal funding to help state and local authorities combat violent crime, US Attorney General Michael Mukasey [official profile] announced Thursday in remarks [full text] to the US Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC. The earmarked funds will be used to strengthen the Department of Justice's Violent Crime Reduction Partnership, a program that combines federal and state resources for crime-prevention and prisoner re-entry initiatives. Although the $200 million is a significant increase over the $75 million earmarked for the program in 2007 [DOJ press release], many mayors expressed concern that the money would only be enough to bolster existing programs and would likely not cover the cost of hiring any new police officers. Mukasey also warned against the potential dangers associated with implementing a December 2007 decision by the US Sentencing Commission [official website] to retroactively reduce penalties for crack cocaine offenders [JURIST report; press release] that was handed down last month. He said that as many as 1,600 inmates may be eligible for immediate release, many of whom may be violent offenders or have failed to complete community re-entry programs, although some mayors said the released prisoners would be more likely to be nonviolent offenders.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released statistics [FBI fact sheet; JURIST report] earlier this month that showed that although violent crimes in the first half of 2007 were generally down for the first time in two years, small cities and rural areas did see a rise in violent offenses. Mayors have long requested help from Washington to battle budget cuts that have limited the size of the police forces in their cities, as well as rising gang activity. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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