Increase Federal Funding for Criminal Justice

Federal funding for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice should be increased by maximizing use of federal entitlement programs and grant funding.

In its 1991 report, Breaking The Mold, the Te xas Performance Review (TPR) recommended that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) more aggressively seek additional revenue from federal grants generally awarded by federal agencies on a competitive basis. Specifically, TPR recommended: The Le gislature should direct the Office of State-Federal Relations to monitor, identify and assist in obtaining federal grants for state criminal justice agencies. The Legislature should also direct state criminal justice agencies to conduct their discretionary grant activities in accordance with the procedures developed by the Office of State-Federal Relations (OSFR). 1 In part because of the TPR recommendations, and more than a decade of Texas receiving an inequitable share of federal funds, the Legislature designated the OSFR as having primary responsibility for monitoring, coordinating and reporting on the state s efforts to ensure receipt of an equitable share of federal funds. 2 The Legislature also directed each state agency to appoint a senior or management level employee to serve as that agency s federal funds coordinator, who is responsible for working in cooperation with the OSFR to maximize their acquisition of federal funds. 3

The Director of the Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments was appointed federal funds coordinator for TDCJ. A federal funds committee was established, chaired by the federal funds coordinator, and charged with overseeing and coordinating the agency s federal funds acquisition activities and was also responsible for complyi ng with all grant reporting requirements established by the OSFR. This six-member committee consists of the Chair and a representative from the Pardons and Parole Division, Community Justice Assistance Division and Institutional Division of TDCJ (TDCJ-ID), as well as representatives from TDCJ s Executive Office and Budget and Finance Division. 4

Although the committee has been in operation for approximately one year, it did not successfully acquire any new federal grant funding (in addition to federal grant funding previously being received by TDCJ) or submit applications or competitively bid for any such grants in fiscal 1992. However, several committee members did request information and investigate the practicality of applying for approximately 15 potenti al federal grants. 5

In part because of this lack of new grant acquisition on the part of the committee, TDCJ received about $1.7 million in federal financial assistance in fiscal 1992, down from about $4.2 million received in fiscal 1991 (Table 1). 6

Table 1 - Texas Department of Criminal Justice Schedule of Federal Financial
Assistance by Division, 1991-92

Division Fiscal 1991 Fiscal 1992

Institutional $ 3,979,647 $ 1,612,326
Pardons and Parole 0 0
Community Justice Assistance 172,683 99,201

Total $ 4,152,330 $ 1,711,527

Source: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division, Pardons and Parole Division and Community Justice
Assistance Division.

According to the chair and other members of the committee, the majority of t he programs they investigated typically contained provisions excluding incarcerated offenders from being eligible to receive benefits under the grant. Committee members also indicated that there seemed to be an overall decline in the amount of federal fund ing available to states in fiscal 1992. 7

Two states with corrections population sizes similar to those of Texas, Florida and New York, were surveyed to determine federal support to their departments of corrections. Florida obtained approximately $9 millio n and New York roughly $11.5 million in fiscal 1992. 8 Both states placed a high priority on the acquisition of federal funds and had staff members dedicated to identifying such funds. The New York Department of Corrections established a team consisting of three individuals from the program planning division , who, along with a full-time staff person in the Budget and Finance Division, aggressively explored, analyzed and applied for federal grants. 9

Federal Entitlement Programs
The Texas federal funds committee decided to concentrate on increasing TDCJ s utilization of federal entitlement funds to offset state corrections spending. There are several key entitlement programs which may be applicable to corrections populations, including Medicaid, Medicare, Sup plemental Security Income, Social Security, Veterans Benefits, Food Stamp and Housing and Urban Development Housing. During its first year of operation, the committee investigated the use of Medicaid and Medicare benefits for corrections populations. A Special Needs Parole Category was established to divert Medicaid/Medicare eligible inmates into a community setting where they could be served less expensively. Some committee members believed that most of the other large entitlement programs also excluded inmates from being eligible to receive additional benefits. 10

To test for their applicability to corrections populations, a limited analysis of the major entitlement programs was conducted by TPR. It revealed that only one held any potential for deterri ng state spending on incarcerated populations: the Food Stamp Program.

An analysis of the applicability of the Food Stamp Program disclosed that, under certain conditions, incarcerated offenders may be eligible to receive assistance. According to section 273.11(e) of the Food Stamp Act of 1977 as amended, residents of public or private non-profit drug or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation programs may voluntarily apply for the Food Stamp Program (emphasis added). 11 According to a representative of th e Texas Department of Human Services (the state agency that administers the Food Stamp Program in Texas), this legislation appears to allow residents of both non-secure (voluntary facilities that are not locked) and secure facilities (locked facilities suc h as TDCJ-ID prisons and TDCJ substance abuse treatment centers), to apply for food stamp assistance. 12

In November 1991, Texas voters approved $643 million in bonds to buy or build new prison facilities, including drug abuse treatment centers with a 12,000-inmate capacity. It is anticipated that these new centers will be completed by 1995. 13 Although a percentage of these beds may be operated by private for-profit providers, thus excluding them from being eligible to apply for assistance through the Food Stamp Program, most will be operated by a public or private non-profit agency. 14

Federal Grant Funding
In addition to conducting an analysis of the applicability of entitlement programs (such as the Food Stamp Program) to offender populations, the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) was reviewed for discretionary grants that would be available to state corrections agencies. This database contains detailed information on hundreds of grants listed by major category. A limited assessment of the CFDA database revealed a wide varie ty of grants within various categories, like Resource Conservation and Development, which, although not specifically targeted for offender populations, could be used by corrections agencies. Another possible source is the Environmental Quality category in the CFDA. TDCJ, particularly through the Texas Correctional Industry Division, could apply for a number of the grants available in this category. A selected listing of less obvious grant programs is provided below followe d by the specific federal grant reference number.

Selected Federal Grant Programs by Major Category

Agriculture Resource Conservation and Development
Agricultural Conservation Program (10.063)
Conservation Reserve Program (10.069)

Education Handicapped
Books for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (42.001)
Media and Captioning for Individuals with Disabilities (84.026)

Education Vocational Education
Projects with Industry (84.234)
Pell Grant Program (84.063)

Employment, Labor and Training Planning, Research and Demonstration
Corrections Training and Staff Development (16.601)
Corrections Technical Assistance/Clearinghouse (16.603)

Environmental Quality Solid Waste Management
Solid Waste Disposal Research (66.504)
Solid Waste Management Assistance (66.808)

Sources: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Directory of State and Federal Grants.

One very promising federal grant program listed in the CFDA database is the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, funded by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In fiscal 1992, both the New York and Florida departm ents of corrections received grants of approximately $2.5 and $1.3 million, respectively, under this program. This grant was analyzed to determ ine its applicability to incarcerated offenders in Texas. Under provisions of this program, inmates under the age of 21 who participate in a state approved educational program are eligible to receive reimbursement of up to approximately $2.60 per day for t he average number of days attended during the year. 15

Another federal grant program which may provide some additional money is the Pell Grant Program. Pell grants can be used to supplement state support for inmates enrolled in higher education programs. I n school year 1990-91, there were more than 8,000 inmates enrolled in continuing education in junior and senior colleges. 16 The amount of the incarcerated student s federal Pell Grant may not exceed the cost of the tuition and fees normally assessed by the institution of higher education plus books and supplies. 17 Funds available from this program may, however, be restricted by a provision which requires the funds be used to supplement the level of post-secondary educational assistance provided by the state to incarcerated students in fiscal 1988. 18

A. Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) should expand the membership of the federal funds committee to include representatives from divisions which could assist in identifying additional federal funds, such as the Texas Correctional Industries and Agri cultural divisions.

B. The Board of Criminal Justice should direct the committee to comply with the intent of state legislation and seek to maximize federal grant and federal entitlement fun ding. The committee should be required to submit a report once every two years to the Board of Criminal Justice detailing all grants and entitlements identified and applied for and the results of the application.

C. TDCJ management should direct the committee to work in conjunction with the Office of State-Federal Relations to investigate applicability of the National School Lunch Program, as well as the Food Stamp program, to offender populations.

In the event that TDCJ is eligible to receive funds through either prog ram, the Legislature should direct the committee to formally apply for such funding on behalf of TDCJ. Any savings to the state would be achieved by a reduction in appropriation to TDCJ for food services at the applicable institutions.

Fiscal Impact
The Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) reported that the average monthly allotment for food stamps in fiscal 1991 was $65.75 per person for a total value of $1.7 billion. 19 If it is assumed that at least 10,000 of the planned TDCJ substance abuse treatment beds and the in-prison treatment beds will be operated by a public or private non-profit entity, then the acquisition of food stamps may result in savings of $7.9 million per year for the State of Texas. The operator of the facility would apply to DHS as a representative of the residents. Each resident, because they are institutionalized, would be certified as a one-person household and would receive an authorized-to-participate (AT P) card. This card would be used by an institution emplo yee as the authorized representative of the residents. The authorized representative would be able to receive food stamps at an issuance center and purchase food from wholesalers. In view of this significant potential savings, a thorough examination of the Food Stamp legislation appears to be warranted. As of December 1992, no other states have pursued this entitlement program for inmates.

As of the end of fiscal 1992, approximately 4,582 inmates 21 years of age or younger averaged 75 school days in a TDCJ Windham School system educational program and were potentially eligible for assistance under the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program. 20 There are an estimated 200 additional inmates housed and educated in the private prisons who may also be eligible. Based on a reimbursement rate of $2.60 per day, the State of Texas could potentially receive $893,490 per year in reimbursement for the estimated 4,582 eligible inmates through the National School Breakfast and Lunch program, and receive an appropriate reduction in the per diem paid to the private prison operators, which should result in additional savings of about $190,000.

Based on planned prison construction and the current jail backlog of inmates, the total number of eligible inmates is projected to grow to more that 7,000 within three years.

Fiscal Savings to the General Change
Year Revenue Fund 001 in FTEs

1994 $3,200,000 0
1995 5,300,000 0
1996 9,300,000 0
1997 9,300,000 0
1998 9,300,000 0

1 Comptroller of Public Accounts, Breaking The Mold, New Ways to Govern Texas, A report from the Texas Performance Review, Volume 2 - Part II (Austin, Texas, July 1991), p. 35.
2 Comptroller of Public Accounts, Dollars We Deserve, Maximizing Federal Dollars for Texas (Austin, Texas, December 1990).
3 Govt., Code Title 7, Texas Code Ann. Ch. 751.022(d) & (e) (Vernon 1992).
4 Interview with Dee Kifowit, Executive Director, Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments, Austin, Texas, December 7, 1992.
5 Ibid.
6 Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Federal Financial Assistance for Institutional and Community Justice Assistance Divisions for the Year Ended August 31, 1992 (Huntsville, Texas, December 1992).
7 Interview with Dee Kifowit.
8 Interview with Jim Biddy, Chief of Finance and Accounting, Florida Department of Corrections, Tallahassee, Florida, December 15, 1992; and interview with Connie Morris, Federal Funds Financial Analyst, Finance Division of the New York Department of Correct ions, New York, December 16, 1992.
9 Ibid.
10 Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas Crime, Texas Justice, A report from the Texas Performance Review (Austin, Texas, September 1992), pp. 75-84.
11 Food Stamp Act of 1977 as Amended, P.L. 88-525 Sec. 7 CFR 273.3.11(e), June 30, 1989.
12 Interview with Sally Casso, Eligibility Specialist, Texas Department of Human Services, Austin, Texas, December 17, 1992.
13 Comptroller of Public Accounts, Six Keys to Texas Crime Crisis, Fiscal Notes, Issue 92:8 (Austin, Texas, August 1992), p. 4.
14 Interview with Bill Berry, Director of Management Services, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Huntsville, Texas, December 17, 1992.
15 Interview with Stan Gannett, Director of Child Nutrition Program, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C., December 16, 1992.
16 Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Annual Report, 1991 (Austin, Texas, 1991), p. 69.
17 U. S. Department of Education, Federal Family of Education Loan Program, Washington, D. C., October 1992, p. 66.
18 Ibid.
19 Texas Department of Human Services, 1991 Annual Report (Austin, Texas, December 1991), pp. 15-19.
20 Interview with Stan Gannett.