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Prison Reforms in White House Budget

(CN) - President Barack Obama's newly announced budget includes $173 million to reform the criminal justice system.

The $3.9 trillion budget for fiscal year 2015 will be "split evenly between defense and non-defense priorities," the Department of Justice said in a statement Tuesday.

Attorney General Eric Holder in August introduced a "Smart on Crime" plan that, among other things, encourages diversion programs and other alternatives to prison for nonviolent drug offenders.

Holder said that $173 million of the FY 2015 budget will go toward criminal justice reforms such as alternatives to incarceration and re-entry programs to help ex-offenders be productive members of society.

"Each dollar spent on prevention and re-entry has the potential to save several dollars in incarceration costs," Holder said in the statement.

Obama's budget request seeks $115 million for the Second Chance Act Grant program, which aims to reduce rates of repeat offenders and help ex-convicts return to work.

The budget also allocates $29 million to expand substance abuse programs at the local, state and federal levels, and $15 million to federal prosecutors to help promote alternatives to incarceration, such as drug courts.

While $173 million of the budget will be spent on criminal justice reforms, $4 billion will be spent on counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence programs, according to the government.

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