HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html IG Criticizes Meth Funding
Pubdate: Fri, 24 Mar 2006
Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Copyright: 2006 The Commercial Appeal
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


WASHINGTON -- Some states with significant methamphetamine problems have not
received their share of federal money because the bulk of a grant program
was steered by lawmakers to favored projects in their districts, the Justice
Department inspector general said Thursday.

More than $179 million in anti-meth money administered by the
department -- 84 percent of the grant funds -- has been earmarked, as
the practice is known, by members of Congress for programs in their
states and districts, inspector general Glenn Fine said.

"As a result of the significant use of congressional earmarks in this
program, funding is not always directed to the areas of the country
with the most significant meth problem," Fine said in a report
examining the grant program from 1998 to 2005.

The Bush administration has proposed ending most meth-related earmarks
in the budget for 2007. Lawmakers have indicated they are unlikely to
go along.

One example cited by Fine: Missouri ranked second, behind California, in
seizing 11,859 meth labs between 1998 and 2004. But it was tenth in grants
received with $3.7 million.

Texas and Illinois were 10th and 11th in the number of labs seized,
but 23rd and 25th, respectively, in money from the meth initiative.

Tennessee is receiving relatively little grant money, the report
showed. The state reported 3,631 meth lab seizures between 1998 and
2004, the seventh highest state total, yet received $2,863,181 in
grant funds between 1998 and 2005. By comparison, Mississippi reported
1,511 lab seizures and received $5,009,056 in grants.

Arkansas was also well ahead of Tennessee in grant money, reporting
3,111 lab seizures and receiving $5,689,476 in grants.

Meanwhile, the Sioux City, Iowa, police department was given $10
million for a training program that Fine said was not focused on meth
or any drug. Instead, "classes focused on enhancing general law
enforcement skills, such as interviewing and self-defense," he said.

In Vermont, the State Police used more than half of their $2.4 million
grant for a task force to combat heroin. In Hawaii, where police
seized just 76 meth labs over seven years, a nonprofit group used $8.4
million in money targeted at meth for a several anti-drug programs.

Fine also faulted Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing
Services, or COPS, for its oversight of the program. The audit said
there was a lack of coordination between officials in the COPS office
and weaknesses in the database used to manage grants.
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