FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28, 1995 AG RENO

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AG (202) 616-2777 TDD (202) 514-1888

HOUSE DEP'T OF JUSTICE CUTS "A GIANT STEP BACKWARDS"

Bill Would Slash Police Hiring, Violence Against Women Funding, Legal Aid and Eliminate the Community Relations Service WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Attorney General Janet Reno warned today against the dramatic cuts to federal law enforcement approved by the House Appropriations Committee Subcommitee on Commerce Justice and State Appropriations. Passed today, the proposal would scrap the COPS police hiring program, fund less than half of the Violence Against Women Act, restrict prison funding to the states, and undermine legal services for poor Americans. "President Clinton has repeatedly stated his resolve to veto any proposal to undermine our effort to put 100,000 new police on the street," said Reno. "We've already committed funds for 20,000 officers. We can't scrap a proven success for an open-ended block grant program that wouldn't guarantee a single new officer." Police hiring block grants under the 1970s Law Enforcement Assistance Administration led to waste and abuses, including purchases of a tank, an airplane used by the state's governor, U.S. Treasury bills, and real estate. COPS Director Joe Brann called the vote "deeply disappointing." "I believe that the Subcommittee's action is out of touch with the goals of the America's law enforcement officers." Law enforcement groups spoke out against the block grant proposal earlier this year. The Committee also voted to slash funding for the Justice Department's portion of the Violence Against Women Act grants, which were slated under last year's crime bill to rise to nearly $170 million next year. The Committee would reduce that figure by nearly $100 million. "We can't turn our back on women in the fight against sexual assaults, rape and domestic abuse," said Bonnie Campbell, Director of the Justice Department's Violence Against Women Office. "These cuts would mean fewer shelters, prosecutors and police officers to fight violence against women and help victims. Fortunately, Senators Biden and Hatch pledged to preserve Violence Against Women funding just this week." Reno also criticized the Committee's approach to providing funding for prisons. "We have to help states out, and last year's crime bill does that. The Committee approach would put fewer violent prisoners behind bars with tough-sounding requirements that would backfire and force states to cut sentences, release prisoners

or spend $20 for every $1 in federal matching funds." Reno also criticized the bill's attempts to cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation. "Without basic legal services, the poor are denied the promise of 'Equal Justice Under Law.' We can't turn our backs on those who cannot afford legal advice." Finally, Reno criticized efforts to eliminate the Community Relations Service, which works to keep the peace in troubled communities and defuse situations that could lead to bloodshed. "Our mediators are often the thin line between tension and violence, and they have helped us keep the peace for decades." ### 95-367