Budget Cuts Have Come for Police Dogs

A big chase for an escaped prisoner in Illinois over Labor Day weekend was missing one thing: the canine unit.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officers and their dogs during a canine graduation ceremony Friday, June 14, 2013 in New York's Grand Central Terminal.
National Journal
Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Sept. 11, 2013, 7:58 a.m.

It took more than four days for the Illinois De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions to cap­ture es­caped pris­on­er Jared Carter. The hunt in­volved more than 100 de­part­ment em­ploy­ees, as well as heli­copters, air­planes, and state po­lice per­son­nel. But there’s one thing that was left out of the search due to Illinois state budget cuts: a pris­on can­ine unit.

To help slash his state’s budget, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn nixed five dog-hand­ling jobs in the de­part­ment last year, ac­cord­ing to in­form­a­tion ob­tained by The Quad-City Times. And, without hand­lers, that meant Gov. Quinn had to lay off the dogs.

It’s not as if the search was par­tic­u­larly cheap. The Cor­rec­tions De­part­ment says the bill already tops $100,000, and it’s likely to grow. The hunt also wasn’t even com­pletely dog-free: The de­part­ment was able to get some can­ine help from the Craw­ford County Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

Budget is­sues in the Illinois pris­on sys­tem af­fect more than dogs, though. Ac­cord­ing to an Amer­ic­an Fed­er­a­tion of State, County, and Mu­ni­cip­al Em­ploy­ees uni­on spokes­man, “Crit­ic­al se­cur­ity meas­ures have been re­duced due to lack of staff” at the over­crowded Robin­son Cor­rec­tion­al Cen­ter that Carter es­caped from. On the day he made it out, one of the guard towers was not staffed.

And, again, the prob­lem is broad­er than just this one pris­on, and just this one can­ine unit. Illinois’s pris­on sys­tem cost more than $1.7 bil­lion in fisc­al 2010, ac­cord­ing to the Vera In­sti­tute of Justice. There are more than 49,000 state pris­on in­mates in a sys­tem de­signed to hold about 33,000. With so much fisc­al fo­cus on just hous­ing in­mates, there’s been barely any money left in the budget for re­hab­il­it­a­tion pro­grams. This Feb­ru­ary, over­crowding at six state pris­ons forced in­mates to have to sleep in gyms.

What We're Following See More »
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
2 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
1 days ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
IT’S ALL ABOUT SECOND PLACE
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
23 hours ago
THE LATEST

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.

Source:
×