The title of this article is self-explanatory. Of course tight budgets will influence the operations of criminal justice agencies. The more important questions are these. How severely will the operations be influenced and for how long?
Throughout my many years in the field of criminal justice, I have lived through many instances of tight budgets. In the old days we survived these budgets cuts by tweaking this and that, not filling vacant positions (hiring freeze), shutting off lights, taking every other fluorescent light bulb out, and canceling all travel, etc.
My concern now is that governmental bodies are in reality running out of cash to operate criminal justice agencies, especially correctional facilities. While there is a great deal of rhetoric by our politicians at every level of government, as of the writing of this article, nothing substantive has been presented to solve the nation’s (world’s) economic problems.
The differences between the budget crises that I experienced and today’s budget crises are these:
Ø The duration of this budget crisis promises to be far longer than any of those I experienced.
Ø Additionally, when the economy does start to come back, criminal justice operations, especially corrections, will be the last to enjoy it.
Ø There will be the loss and/or serious reduction of federal and state grants.
Ø Not being prepared could prove to be disastrous.