President Biden’s proposed budget will task the Department of Justice with overseeing policing reforms and civil rights issues that include addressing systemic racism and a rise in hate crimes. It also takes aim at voting laws.
Racism will take center stage as the summary for the budget contends that massive funding is required to address “a national reckoning on racial inequity centuries in the making.”
Biden’s budget will increase the DOJ’s slice of the pie by almost 20 percent – by a reported $33 million. The funds will be used to address hate crimes, the enforcement of voting rights, and police reform. The money will be focused “in communities uniquely impacted by bias, xenophobia, and hate-driven by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, such as Asian America[n] communities.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland recently ordered a 30-day review of the DOJ’s hate crime efforts specifically in response to the rise in attacks against Asian Americans. Some of the funding will ostensibly be applied to that review. “The recent rise in hate crime and hate incidents, particularly the disturbing trend in reports of violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community since the start of the pandemic, requires renewed energy,” Garland said in a memo.
(Video Credit: Forbes Breaking News)
President Biden also released a statement on hate crimes preceding his budget announcement: “Too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying, waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake. They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated, and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed… The conversation we had today with the AAPI leaders, and that we’re hearing all across the country, is that hate and violence often hide in plain sight. And it’s often met with silence. That’s been true throughout our history, but that has to change — because our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act.”
The DOJ’s Voting Rights Section will benefit from funds allocated to the Civil Rights Division. This comes as a number of conservative states are passing voter integrity laws. Georgia is at the top of that list and is sure to be a target of Garland’s because of claimed voter suppression. Currently, the DOJ is contemplating exactly how they want to respond to Georgia’s new voting law.
The DOJ has been interviewing new attorneys to hire in recent weeks to populate their Voting Rights Section for the legal battles ahead of them. It is part of Biden’s vow to fight against what he deems as discriminatory voting laws.
More than $300 million has been allotted for community policing and implementing more “diversity” in police forces. There is funding for both implicit bias and racial sensitivity training as well as instruction on hate crimes.
“Bold action is required to reform the federal criminal justice system so that it serves and protects all Americans,” the White House declared.
The budget is also looking to further former President Trump’s First Step Act by investing in programs that will offer a number of alternatives to prison for low-level offenders. It also promotes a reentry program that seeks to stop repeat offenses after an inmate is discharged from prison.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect American communities, the need for smart solutions to reduce prison populations has become even more pressing,” the summary states.
The DOJ budget also has funding in it to reduce gun violence. $232 million is being added to further Biden’s gun control executive orders, “to address the gun violence public health crisis plaguing communities across the Nation.”
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