Criminal Stimulus

The House passed stimulus bill has a provision that will provide stimulus to criminals.  No joke. 

On page 52 of the House Stimulus Bill, “$3,000,000,000, to be available for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.”  The same provision is in the Senate bill, but for only $1.5 billion on page 42.   These monies are dispensed by the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Department of Justice for the express purpose of increasing safety in America.  The problem is that some of these federal monies are used to allow criminals alleged to have committed serious enough crimes to merit bail to be released before trial — using your federal tax dollars to fund the program.  This Byrne Grant provision if not changed can be called the Criminal Stimulus provision of the Obama Stimulus plan.

According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance:

The Byrne Grant program is a program of the Department of Justice to The Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grant Program (Byrne Formula Grant Program) is a partnership among federal, state, and local governments to create safer communities.

According to Deborah Jallad, President of Accredited Surety and Casualty Co. in Florida some of the Byrne Grant monies are used by some counties in Florida, and presumably in other jurisdictions, to let those arrested go before trial, even if they are flight risks.  Mission creep has morphed this program from a program for the indigent to a program for most of those arrested and it is driving bail bonds insurers out of business. Jallad argues that it is an inappropriate use of tax money, because the bail industry is doing the job effectively and wiht no expense to the taxpayer.

This is not an appropriate us of tax dollars.  Expanding the budgets of taxpayer-funded pretrial release programs is not fiscally responsible when the private surety bail industry can be utilized to greater degrees at no taxpayer expense.

Furthermore, if this bill is to provide stimulus to the economy, Jallad argues that this provision may cause the opposite.  More money for Byrnes Grants will cause unemployment in the private sector, because the government will take over a function ably being implemented by private enterprise. 

The government should not compete with private enterprise — especially when the private sector is more effective.  Private enterprise creates jobs, pays taxes and stimulates the economy.

If the goal of the stimulus bill is to create jobs, this provision will kill jobs.

Lawyers explain that the purpose of making a defendant post bail, or pay a bail bondsman to post the bail, is to ensure that a defendant shows up for court.   The Byrne Grant program’s overall purposes is to protect communities, but some of the money will allow more criminals to skip bail while awaiting trial without the fear of losing a pot of money.

The reason for bail is set for an individual is because an alleged criminal is a flight risk. If the federal government has negated the need to post bail for alleged criminals who are flight risks, then it is more likely that criminals (which they will be when they don’t show up for their court date) will roam free before their court date.  There is no financial motivation for the government to chase these criminals who don’t show up.

Only the left could consider putting more criminals in the loose to be economic stimulus. Dog the Bounty Hunter, call you local unemployment office.