Updated 4:23 p.m.
Two national defense attorney groups are asking the Department of Justice to better analyze how proposed criminal laws and crime-fighting strategies might add additional costs to the rest of the justice system.
Federal and local officials look at the funding needed to implement new laws and strategies but ignore how other parts of the system can be affected, said Virginia attorney Bonnie Hoffman, co-chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' Indigent Defense Committee.
"They do not consider how much will be spent on police, prosecutors, probation officers, jails and prisons," Hoffman said in a statement. "And they never consider the impact on the nation's over-extended and under-funded indigent defense system."
The NACDL joined the American Council of Chief Defenders section of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in passing a resolution this month that calls for the DOJ to conduct "justice system impact statements" statements on future policy changes. The resolution suggests the DOJ could fund the studies through its criminal justice grant programs.
The American Bar Association adopted a similar resolution more than 20 years ago, but the NACDL and NLADA resolution also asks DOJ for impact statements for the grants it distributes to local police and prosecutors.
"It is as sound now as it was then, only now we have the benefit of hindsight and can see the negative impact that ill-considered legislation and policy decisions have had on the criminal justice system," Hoffman said.
The defense groups said the impact statements would allow for better decisions about allocation of taxpayer money.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.