Investment in Crime-fighting Program Print
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 12:42

Monday, March 26, 2012

 

Cantwell, Grassley Lead Bipartisan Senate Coalition Urging

Investment in Key Program to Fight Crime

Byrne JAG program provides critical assistance for local law enforcement fight

against gangs and meth but could face even larger budget cuts

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last Friday, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led a bipartisan coalition of 42 senators in support of continued investment in a crucial tool for law enforcement in the fight against crime. The coalition, in a letter penned to Senate Appropriators, opposed any additional cuts to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program, which helps states and communities across the country reduce crime, prevent juvenile delinquency, and reduce recidivism.

 

“As you well know, Byrne JAG is a cornerstone crime-fighting program that supports the federal government’s crucial role in spurring innovation across the criminal justice system, as well as testing and replicating evidence-based practices nationwide,” wrote the Senators in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. “Given the significant financial constraints the federal government has faced in recent years, funding for Byrne JAG has been reduced by nearly one-third over the past two fiscal years. Therefore, we ask that the Byrne JAG program be protected against further cuts in the Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.”

 

Byrne JAG funds have been used to keep vital law enforcement programs alive that go after criminal gangs and facilitate drug treatment during a time when budgets for law enforcement officials and prosecutors across the nation have been cut. These funds can be used for state and local initiatives, technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and criminal justice information systems. Investments in the program have been reduced by over one-third the past two fiscal years.

 

Even with lower funding levels, the program has played a major role in reducing crime. Nationally, from October 2008 through September 2011, recipients of Byrne JAG grants:

 

·         Disrupted over 5,000 drug trafficking organizations

·         Arrested 7,739 gang members on felony charges

·         And from July 2010 to July 2011 seized 2.3 million pounds of drugs

 

The Byrne JAG program is a partnership among federal, state, and local governments that tailors federal law enforcement grants to the needs of different communities. It supports a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and improve the criminal justice system that include: law enforcement programs; prosecution and court programs; prevention and education programs; corrections and community corrections programs; drug treatment programs; and planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs.

 

The procedure for allocating Byrne JAG grants is based on a formula of population and violent crime statistics, in combination with a minimum allocation to ensure that each state and territory receives an appropriate share of funding. Sixty percent of Byrne JAG funds are allocated to states which then provide it to innovative programs in local communities. The remaining 40 percent is provided directly to communities via a state-wide competitive grant process.

 

The letter to Senate Appropriators was signed by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), John Kerry (D-MA), Max Baucus (D-MT),  Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), James Inhofe (R-OK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), Scott Brown (R-MA), Jim Webb (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John Hoeven (R-ND), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mark Begich (D-AK), David Vitter (R-LA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Jack Reed (D-RI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

 

The complete text of the letter sent Friday follows.

 

March 23, 2012

 

The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski

Chairwoman

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

142 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

125 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairwoman Mikulski and Ranking Member Hutchison:

 

Thank you for your continued leadership in providing substantial federal support for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program over the years.  As you well know, Byrne JAG is a cornerstone crime-fighting program that supports the federal government’s crucial role in spurring innovation across the criminal justice system, as well as testing and replicating evidence-based practices nationwide.

 

Given the significant financial constraints the federal government has faced in recent years, funding for Byrne JAG has been reduced by nearly one-third over the past two fiscal years.  These cuts will have a direct and serious impact in our states as successful public safety initiatives and cross-jurisdictional collaborations are forced to close or be scaled back.   Therefore, we ask that the Byrne JAG program be protected against further cuts in the Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

 

One of the keys to the Byrne JAG program’s continuing success is its flexibility: federal dollars can be used in a wide variety of capacities at the local level in the way most appropriate to address local community needs across the criminal justice spectrum, and allows localities to balance resources and react to urgent challenges or changing circumstances.

 

Byrne JAG funds are used for law enforcement, prosecution and courts, prevention, drug treatment and enforcement, gang prevention, planning, evaluation, training, technology, and crime and victim witness programs.  Guided by statewide strategic planning, Byrne JAG funds are able to test and measure innovative methods for reducing crime, preventing juvenile delinquency, and reducing recidivism, while at the same time saving taxpayer dollars.

 

Sixty percent of Byrne JAG funds are provided to the states to pass through for innovative programming in local communities.  The remaining forty percent is provided to local communities directly.  In Fiscal Year 2011, over 1,300 local jurisdictions across the country were awarded direct grants, and many more were awarded funds passed through by the state criminal justice planning agencies.

 

As you move forward in deliberations over Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations, we ask that you continue Congress’ commitment to the Byrne JAG Program.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

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