Federal Crime Control Assistance:

A Discussion of the Program and Possible Alternatives

GGD-78-28: Published: Jan 27, 1978. Publicly Released: Jan 27, 1978.

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The primary objective of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, as amended, is crime control, with emphasis placed upon strengthening and improving law enforcement. There is some ambiguity in interpreting these goals. Difficulties in evaluating programs of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) result from the lack of reliable means for measuring crime and delinquency and lack of standards for gauging criminal justice performance.

Federal funds are made available to States primarily in the form of block grants which are then subgranted by States to local governments, with additional funds awarded by LEAA at its discretion (the categorical program). Some criticisms of block fund programs were that they were not innovative and that a disproportionate share of funds was awarded for police functions. Categorical programs did not show systematic policy development but rather reflected the impact of frequent changes in leadership. Such changes were also reflected in the management of research programs. Alternatives considered for achieving purposes of the Act were: retaining the block grant approach with such options as changes in funding, Federal leadership, State and local authority, and decategorization; sharing Federal revenue with State and local governments; placing the greatest emphasis on expanded research and evaluation; and expanding the Federal program scope. Key policy issues involved are whether the Federal government should continue its mandated goals or restrict its role to providing fiscal relief.

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