Legislative Analyst's Office
Analysis of the 2002-03 Budget Bill
The state's Board of Corrections oversees the operations of the state's 460 local jails by establishing jail standards, inspecting facilities biennially, administering jail bond and federal construction funds, establishing staff training standards, and reimbursing local law enforcement agencies for the costs of training. In addition, the board maintains data on the state's jails. The board also sets standards for, and inspects, local juvenile detention facilities. The board is also responsible for the administration of juvenile justice grant programs.
The budget proposes expenditures of $168 million in 2002-03, including $88.6 million from the General Fund. This is about $71.9 million, or 75 percent, more than estimated current-year expenditures. The General Fund increase is due to implementation of law enforcement and juvenile justice local assistance grant programs. Almost all of the funds for these programs were appropriated in previous years and are available for expenditure in the budget year. The budget also includes an additional $59 million in federal funds for distribution to local governments for construction and expansion of jails and juvenile detention facilities.
We recommend deletion of $3 million requested from the General Fund for the Community Law Enforcement and Recovery (CLEAR) program because the administration has not justified the need for the funds or provided sufficient information that the program is effective. (Delete Item 5430-128-0001 and $3 million.)
Background. The CLEAR program was established by Chapter 506, Statutes of 1997 (AB 853, Hertzberg) as a two-year demonstration project to reduce criminal gang activities. The CLEAR program is designed to draw upon resources from various law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles to share gang intelligence and develop coordinated responses to gang problem areas. Chapter 653, Statutes of 2000 (SB 865, Hughes) extended the sunset of the CLEAR program until January 1, 2004.
The Board of Corrections indicates that the state has provided CLEAR with $14.2 million in General Fund monies since its inception. The program has received annual General Fund appropriations in every year except 1999-00. The funding level has fluctuated from a high of $9 million in 1998-99 to a low of $1 million in the current year. The 2002-03 Governor's Budget proposes $3 million for the CLEAR program which is an augmentation of $2 million from the current year.
Program Effectiveness Inconclusive. In January 2000, the Board of Corrections funded an evaluation study of the CLEAR demonstration project by an outside evaluator. The study analyzed the impact of the CLEAR project on such crime measures as changes in (1) gang-related crime, (2) the resolution of gang-related homicides, and (3) the overall level of violence and nuisance activities. The study showed that there was a reduction in the crime rate in the CLEAR target area. However, based upon our review of the study, this reduction in crime could not be directly linked to the CLEAR project. This is because there was a similar reduction in crime in comparison areas where the CLEAR project did not operate.
No Information Regarding Program Expenditures. Currently, there are no requirements that the local law enforcement agencies report to the Board of Corrections on their CLEAR expenditures. Without this information, the state has no way of knowing how the state funds are being used. For example, it is not known if funds are being used to support additional front line officers or to purchase more equipment.
Local Funding Doubles Funding Necessary for Minimum Program. The study funded by the Board of Corrections of the CLEAR program concluded that a minimal CLEAR program could be sustained for less than $500,000 per site. The program currently has six sites which means a minimal program could be supported by $3 million. However, according to the Board of Corrections, local law enforcement agencies are allocating $7 million of their own funds for continuation of the CLEAR program. Therefore, local funding already reaches two times the amount necessary for a minimal program.
Analyst's Recommendation. We recommend deletion of the $3 million requested from the General Fund for the CLEAR program because it is not clear whether the program reduces crime and there is no information as to how the funds are being used. Furthermore, as we discuss below, other state funding sources can be used for this program.
Law Enforcement Agencies Have Other Funding Sources Available. If local law enforcement agencies determine that local funding does not provide the level of service necessary, there are existing state funds that could be directed towards this program. Through the state's Citizens' Option for Public Safety/juvenile justice grant funding programs, the County of Los Angeles received a total of $62 million in the current year for law enforcement activities. This funding is distributed to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Los Angles County Probation Department, all participating agencies in the CLEAR program. This funding could be used to support gang violence prevention programs, such as CLEAR, as well as other activities.