Vera Institute of Justice on Biden’s Federal Budget

Yesterday, the White House released the annual federal budget, outlining President Biden’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2023. The Vera Institute of Justice issued the following statement:

“President Biden lays out a budget with notable investments in Vera’s justice priorities. Biden’s budget proposal includes necessary funding for criminal legal system reforms and immigrant justice measures that, if enacted by Congress, will improve people's lives, strengthen communities, and increase safety for everyone.

Vera is encouraged to see the inclusion of $500 million for community violence intervention programs, a tool proven to sustainably reduce gun violence and violent crime in impacted communities. The inclusion of $300 million for new criminal legal reform grants alongside investments in mental and behavioral health and funding for the 988 crisis line are also important steps toward badly needed justice-oriented criminal legal reforms. These federal resources are essential, as they focus on comprehensive prevention strategies, which are critical components of strong communities.

It is less clear, therefore, whether line items like the $537 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program are needed. That amount is a 118 percent increase over the enacted Fiscal Year 2022 amount ($246 million) and adds on to the billions of dollars that state and local governments, as well as other federal programs, already pour into law enforcement agencies. These resources would be more effectively invested in proven measures like diversion programs, restorative justice strategies, and alternatives to incarceration.

Significantly, the president's budget includes $150 million to increase access to legal representation for adults and families in immigration proceedings, in addition to funding to provide representation for unaccompanied children. Funding for legal representation is necessary to make sure people facing detention and deportation have access to due process and the ability to exercise their rights.

Congress should take note and include the support the Biden administration’s budget lays out for criminal legal system reforms and immigrant justice initiatives, including community-driven public safety programs and investments in services for immigrants and for people returning home after incarceration. These types of investments will support community needs and lead to supported families and thriving neighborhoods.”

About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and activists working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit

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