U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ NLJ)

The White House’s proposed $27.4 billion budget for the U.S. Department of Justice would boost spending on the administration’s criminal justice reform efforts, the agency said today.

President Barack Obama called for $173 million for initiatives that include more state and local prisoner reentry programs. If enacted, the department would get a $122 million increase over the 2014 fiscal year enacted level.

The additional funding would go in part toward a “Smart on Crime” initiative Holder launched in August. Among other reforms, the effort promotes diversion courts and alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenders, and it urges investment in reentry programs to reduce recidivism in former prisoners, the department said.

“Each dollar spent on prevention and reentry has the potential to save several dollars in incarceration costs,” Holder said in a statement today. “These wise investments can help make our criminal justice system more effective and efficient.”

Holder has made waves in the legal community with other proposed changes to the criminal justice system in the past few months. He instructed prosecutors not to pursue lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentences for some nonviolent drug offenses, and he supported legislation to reduce those same mandatory minimums. Holder has called for state and federal legislation to restore the right to vote for former felons.

Other highlights from the Justice Department’s budget request include:

Adding 36 attorneys in the Civil Rights Division, part of a $7.6 million increase for enforcement of federal civil rights laws such as human trafficking, hate crimes, police misconduct, fair housing, fair lending, disability rights and voting. The division would have a total budget of $273 million.

A budget of $682 million for financial fraud enforcement to strengthen the department’s ability to pursue large-scale financial fraud investigations.

Adding 53 attorneys in the Executive Office for Immigration Review, part of a $23 million program increase to $2.9 billion to support immigration law enforcement.