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Senate Panel Approves Over $7.8 Million for Rhode Island in Commerce, Justice, and Science Spending Bill

Reed and Whitehouse Include Funding for Key Rhode Island Public Safety and Environmental Projects

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today announced that the Appropriations Committee has approved legislation including $3.604 million in funding for Rhode Island public safety and anti-drug initiatives and $3.2 million for environmental programs they requested as part of the 2009 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) spending bill. The bill also includes $1 million that Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, secured to restore and protect the Ocean State's waterways.

"We must do everything we can to reduce gang violence and drug trafficking in our communities. This money will provide law enforcement with better tools to go after drug dealers, prevent gang activity, and expand effective anti-gang initiatives. There is also funding to help people who are trying to turn their lives around get access to substance abuse programs and support services that greatly increase the likelihood that a former abuser stays clean," said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, which helps provide critical support for federal programs to enhance crime fighting efforts throughout the country and provides support for scientific education, research, and exploration.

"As a prosecutor, my job was to help stop crime in any way possible. These are smart, innovative initiatives that will help keep Rhode Island's streets and neighborhoods safer," said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former Rhode Island U.S. Attorney and Attorney General. "I'm glad the committee has also approved funding for several important environmental programs that help study and protect our state's waters. I applaud Senator Reed for his hard work and hope the full Senate will approve this funding."

The 2009 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science spending bill includes:

Public Safety Projects

$1,000,000 for the Providence Police Department's Drug Crime Community Policing Initiative

The Providence Police Department will use this federal funding to create the Providence Highpoint Initiative, a strategy focused on reducing drug-related crime and violence in neighborhoods by targeting street dealers. The Highpoint Initiative dissuades street level drug dealers from dealing in open air markets through police and community/peer pressure as well as offering alternatives for dealers such as counseling and job training. This appropriation would help cover the cost of additional foot and bike patrols in key districts across Providence, counseling, training for offenders, and funding for evaluation of this new, innovative model. The Police Department would work with the Urban League and the Family Services of Rhode Island to provide counseling and job training for drug dealers who are open to pursuing alternatives to incarceration.

$1,000,000 for Phoenix House to Upgrade Substance Abuse Management System

Phoenix House, a non-profit substance abuse prevention and treatment organization, will use this federal funding to implement a new clinical management system that enables the facility to thoroughly assess a client's needs; customize treatment; update clinical records; electronically share data within the Phoenix House treatment network and with governmental and community partners; as well as help program graduates remain in recovery by providing electronic access to Phoenix House support services.

$500,000 for the Providence Center's Continuum of Care Program (CCP)

The Providence Center will use this federal funding to provide treatment and transition assistance for individuals who are re-entering the community after prison. CCP clients will be eligible for all Providence Center services including mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring treatment; child care for children with behavioral disabilities; and parenting classes.

$493,000 for the Pawtucket Police Department's Pawtucket Partnership for a Brighter Future

The Pawtucket Police Department will use this federal funding to help coordinate the efforts of local nonprofit organizations to keep at-risk children in school and away from crime and violence.

$250,000 for the University of Rhode Island's Digital Forensics Center (DFC)

The URI Digital Forensics Center will use this federal funding to jumpstart full operation of the DFC by supporting initial staff and technical equipment costs.

$200,000 for CARITAS's Adolescent Outcomes Tracking Project

CARITAS will use this federal funding to support its Adolescent Outcomes Tracking Project, which tracks and provides comprehensive case management services for adolescent clients in the critical months immediately following residential substance abuse treatment.

$161,000 for the Boys Town of New England (Portsmouth)

The Boys Town of New England will use this federal funding to integrate its Boys Town Treatment Family Home program and its In-Home Family Services program to improve and enhance services for at-risk girls and boys in the juvenile justice system.

Environmental Projects

$1,200,000 for the Pell Library and Undersea Center at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography

The URI Graduate School of Oceanography will use this federal funding for equipment and programs for the new Pell Library and Undersea Center. The Undersea Center project consists of a 3-story 41,000 square-foot building to replace deteriorating buildings. The facility, once completed, will become the central gathering point for the faculty and students of the Graduate School, in addition to housing its expanding library to support growing research programs, enhanced integration with the Rhode Island Sea Grant holdings, and the incorporation of new electronic facilities to provide information services to users.

$1,000,000 for Save The Bay's Marine Education Program

Save The Bay will use this federal funding to support its Marine Education Program which provides enhanced science educational opportunities and fosters a respect for the economic, recreational, and environmental benefits of Narragansett Bay.

$1,000,000 for the University of Rhode Island's Bay Window

URI will use this federal funding to support its Bay Window program and promote water quality and ecological assessments of Narragansett Bay.

$1,000,000 for the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC)

Reed also secured $1 million in the bill to help clean up Rhode Island's environment. The bill includes an appropriation for the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) to develop a comprehensive regional habitat restoration and protection plan for areas of exceptional ecological value in the Narragansett Bay and Little Narragansett Bay watersheds.

"The funding in this bill will also help restore Rhode Island's marine habitats and waterways. I am pleased the Appropriations Committee has taken this important step to help protect Narragansett Bay and the many estuaries that play a crucial role in protecting our environment and bolstering our economy. It is imperative that we conserve our coastal habitats and natural treasures for future generations of Rhode Islanders."

The CJS bill was the first appropriations bill to be taken up and passed by the full Appropriations Committee this year. This is the first step in the lengthy appropriations process, which may not be completed until next year. After it clears the Senate, the bill must also be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. It then goes to the President's desk, where President Bush, who last year vetoed a critical domestic spending package, would have to sign the bill into law.

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