All across the United States, city and state governments have increasingly turned to fines and fees to make up for budget shortfalls. This has required a corresponding explosion in police department budgets, creating a perverse cycle where local governments must consistently expand policing in order to continue to pay for policing. Rural America has not escaped this trend, and a new Vera Institute report has found that small and rural counties are now the main drivers of growth in the prison industrial complex. According Vera’s research, the boom in county jails appears to be driven by an increased amount of people who are either held pretrial or warehoused for federal, state, or other municipal authorities.
Scorching heat has again been accompanied this year by reports of acute drinking water shortages in many villages. The situation was supposed to be different this time because of an unprecedentedly high increase in the budget for drinking water supply in villages announced about 15 months back, but clearly the actual improvement has fallen far short of the high expectations raised at that time. The budget estimate in the 2021-22 budget for Jal Jivan Mission, the main program for rural drinking water supply, was increased to an unprecedented extent to Rs. 50,011 crore, while in 2022-23 budget this was again creased to Rs. 60,000 crore. However, only 26% of the previous year’s allocated amount was utilized till January 2022, as pointed out by the Standing Committee on Water Resources (2021-22), 14th Report, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation.