News pertaining to state deficits has unfortunately become society’s reality. The societal implications are evident due to high rates of unemployment as well as the immense struggle of businesses and organizations. Criminal justice agencies are no different, and are equally subjected to the affects of economic deficits. This issue is affecting every state on a different level. For the purpose of this discussion, the state of Connecticut will be used as an example. This discussion will address the implications of economic deficits and how the deficit affects agencies involved with case studies.
First of all, “Connecticut has a $15.8 billion in unfunded pension liabilities in the State Employees Retirement Fund and the Teachers Retirement Fund, as well as $29.6 billion in unfunded post employment benefits, such as health, dental, and life insurance” (State Budget Challenges Facing Connecticut, 2010). As state employees, it should be very clear as to how this would affect those in criminal justice. It is believed that Connecticut needs to invest in programs that have proven results because not doing so will continue to harm the state's position (State Budget Challenges Facing Connecticut, 2010). As already highly stressed the deficit issue will continue to persist “until the state has a revenue system that reliably meets its investment needs and grows with the economy” (State Budget Challenges Facing Connecticut, 2010). As it stands now, the state is being affected by the alternative of short-term “savings” with serious long-term costs. There are a number of examples that relate to criminal justice.
The first example is a weakening of support for at-risk families (e.g., to avert homelessness, reduce child abuse and neglect). This carries a great potential for there to be an increase in the number of children placed in foster care. Moreover, it implies that police and courts may have an increase in dealing with family violence and child abuse. This influx of court cases may further burden an already back up court system. The second is “reduced investments in mental health and substance abuse treatment that would reduce worker productivity, endanger family cohesiveness, and increase prison costs” (State Budget Challenges Facing Connecticut, 2010). This also bears a huge burden on the criminal justice system in regard to treatment and rehabilitation of high crime risk individuals. In addition, the cost of prisons was already an issue before the problem of budgetary deficits, and it is even more so now.
The budget deficit has also had implications for law enforcement. The huge budget gap has affected the budgets available to law enforcement agencies. Agencies have needed to make certain cutbacks as well. One example is cut back or suspending regular fleet replacement schedules. In Hartford, Connecticut, officers had to their older, high mileage cars. This was one way for the agency to cut some budget costs. Other towns and...