Criminal Justice Budgeting

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Criminal Justice Budgeting


State Budget cuts clog criminal justice system .Most states cut court funding 10 percent to 15 percent within the past three Greg Bluestein 10/26/2014.

Why I chose this article?

The article explains systematically how judges and prosecutors are compelled to ignore minor violations and only pursue serious crimes while judges are delaying and postponing trials in order to cope up with the rising layoffs and low staffing levels, which was a measure, by states to reduce criminal department annual budget. The deep budget cut has seen serious criminal offenders set free due to the heaviness of their caseloads, which cannot permit speedy trials.

Highlights of the article and how it discusses issues in criminal justice budgeting

This report contains an estimate of expenditures on criminal justice for the federal government, provinces, and territories for the last eleven years. It includes policing, courts (judges, prosecutors, legal aid, and youth justice) and corrections (including parole) expenditures. PBO developed a new methodology for estimating expenditures for the criminal justice system drawing on public accounts, Statistics Canada datasets, and information received through direct request.

In 2011-2012, the federal, provincial and territorial governments spent $20.3 billion (1.1% nominal GDP) on criminal justice. Total annual expenditures on criminal justice is comparable to the budget of National Defence ($20.5 billion in 2012), half the size of the budget of Human Resources and Skills Development ($48.1 billion in 2012), and more than double the budget of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada ($7.9 billion in 2012). While Parliament has exclusive jurisdiction to make all criminal laws, the provinces enforce and administer criminal justice.

The article further states that though the expenditure for the court system has varied over the 10 years, the starting, and ending value, as a percentage of GDP, is more or less the same. Nevertheless, the court expenditure is above its 2006 low. In 2006, courts expenditure was 0.198% of GDP and in 2012; this had risen to 0.221%, a difference of $418 million (2012 dollars). Levels of government have shifted over the 10 years with the federal government’s share declining and the provinces and territories increasing.

The federal government’s percentage of GDP spending on courts has declined throughout the past 10 years with its biggest decline during the first three years. Upon closer examination of the data, this expenditure decrease was due to a shift of spending from the Department of Justice’s “Policies, Laws, and Programs” line item to other non-criminal programs within the department.

Author’s Conclusion and Recommendation

In the public accounts, court expenditures include both civil and criminal court activities. It was therefore necessary to determine a method to separate out the criminal court expenditures. The difficulty in determining the criminal expenditures for courts and judges is the requirement to separate this data from the total court system expenditures, which include both civil and criminal activities. Unfortunately, no data sources were found that separated criminal and civil court and judges’ expenditures. Therefore, these expenditures were obtained using the full court expenditures from public accounts combined with an estimate of the criminal portion based on the number of court sitting hours devoted to criminal law administration.

In Alabama, the state's top judge rescinded an order issued by his predecessor that would have dramatically reduced the schedules for civil and criminal trials, telling a local newspaper that the cost of additional jury trials was "not that significant." The move was aimed at coping with a budget that had dropped nearly $30 million in the last year.

Victims should not become victims of our system. We are doing it as best we can but doing it as best we can does not mean we are doing it as best we should be doing.

Conclusion and Recommendation

This paper provides the first longitudinal estimation of the expenditure for the criminal justice system in Canada. It includes policing, courts (judges, prosecutors, legal aid, and youth justice) and corrections (including parole) expenditures.

Expenditure information was collected from the public accounts for the federal government and for the four largest provinces representing 86% of the population and was used to estimate the total expenditures for all the provinces and territories. Expenditures were collected for fiscal years 2001-2002 through 2011-2012.

It is therefore the federal government to ensure full payment for federal level court facilities, operation, and judges. For the provincial superior courts, the judges are supposed to be paid and appointed by the federal government while the provinces and territories pay the facilities and operations. The total expenditures for the provincial and territorial courts including judges are borne by the respective jurisdiction.

The respective province then should pay prosecution services to ensure smooth transition in the court cases. Each province has a legal aid program which pays for legal representation when the defendant cannot afford representation of himself or herself. Legal aid is funded through a combination of transfers from the federal government and funding from the jurisdiction. Youth justice should also be funded through a combination of federal transfers and jurisdictional funding. The expenditures provided here serve as a starting point to support an understanding of the expenditure for Canada’s criminal justice system and its components as well as to enable parliamentarians to better scrutinize planned expenses.


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Whitehead, T. (2010). Police spend almost half of time not tackling crime. The Telegraph Retrieved April 4, 2015, from