The revised Justice and Public Safety budget proposed by House leadership for the upcoming fiscal year entails a 0.29 percent, or $5.3 million, increase to the original JPS budget passed by state lawmakers last year. Despite many unmet needs in North Carolina such as re-entry services for ex-offenders returning into local communities, this bare-bones budget continues an austerity approach that favors tax cuts over reinvestment.
Additional spending items in the proposed revised budget largely consist on one-time funding for various initiatives, including:
- Provides $350,000 in one-time dollars to update Alcohol Law Enforcement radios.
- Provides $507,784 in one-time dollars for the construction and development of first generation School Risk Management Plans for public schools.
- Provides a one-time $187,070 appropriation to expand the Center for Safe School’s pilot tip-reporting program for middle and high schools.
- Provides a one-time $1.1 million appropriation and a recurring $301,276 appropriation to equip and operate the new Western Crime Lab in Edneyville, NC.
- Provides a one-time $640,000 appropriation for equipment at the State Crime Lab.
- Provides a one-time $2 million appropriation for outsourcing forensic analysis services, including toxicology and DNA, at the State Crime Lab.
- Provides a one-time $250,000 appropriation to digitize mental health records in the judicial branch.
Two items that are not in this budget proposal:
- Provides no funding for drug treatment courts, which provides a more cost-effective treatment option for drug offenders and cost a fraction of the cost to keep these individuals in prison. The Governor’s budget included funding for these courts.
- Provides no additional funding to Indigent Defense Services for counsel assigned to those unable to pay for legal representation.