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Biden Details Massive Anticrime Plan; Congress Backing Uncertain


The White House released the latest version of President Biden's massive "Safer America" plan on Monday. It is not clear whether much of it will be approved by Congress, given that House and Senate appropriators have approved only a small portion of key elements such as an "Accelerating Justice System Reform" grant program.


Biden issued a summary of the plan last month, when he was scheduled to discuss it on a trip to Pennsylvania. The trip was abruptly cancelled when the president reported that he had tested positive for COVID.


In the document made public Monday, the White House declared, "We need to fund police who walk the beat, know the neighborhood, are accountable to those they are sworn to serve, and build community trust and safety. We need to invest in mental health and substance use treatment services, crisis responders, and social workers to reduce the burden on police officers, connect people with community resources, and prevent violent crime.


"We need to expand community violence interventions – led by trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma. We need to enforce our commonsense gun laws, require background checks for all gun sales in order to keep firearms out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers, and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines – weapons of war that have no place in our communities."


Biden is requesting $37 billion from Congress over a number of years, starting in the fiscal year that begins on October 1, but it is this budget that already has been severely trimmed by congressional appropriators. The congressional action is not final.


As proposed on Monday, Biden would:


--Fund 100,000 additional local police officers who will be recruited, trained, hired, and supervised to provide "accountable community policing in order to enhance trust and public safety"


--Invest $20 billion in "services that address the causes of crime and reduce the burdens on police so they can focus on violent crime, and by incentivizing the reform of laws that increase incarceration without redressing public safety."


--Take more steps to keep "dangerous firearms out of dangerous hands," including a requirement for background checks for all gun sales and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The policing part of the plan would ensure funding for small cities and towns as well as big cities.


Other provisions would "clear court backlogs and improve pretrial supervision," impose tough penalties on all forms of fentanyl, and crack down on organized retail. theft.


The $15 billion Accelerating Justice System Reform grant program would help states, cities, tribes, and territories to provide services to former or current inmates, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, GED programs, and training and employment opportunities.

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