Justice Department Announces $240 Million in Grants for Crime Prevention
by Jim Kouri
(The following is based on a report submitted to the National Association of Chiefs of Police by the US Department of Justice.)
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey today announced nearly $240 million in grant awards that support communities and law enforcement in preventing crime. These grants are administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and Community Capacity Development Office (CCDO) within the Office of Justice Programs (OJP).
Funding is awarded through several OJP initiatives, including the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, the Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grants Program, the Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program, the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, and the Weed and Seed Initiative.
"The burden of fighting crime and revitalizing America's communities falls most heavily on local law enforcement and neighborhood organizations," said Attorney General Mukasey. "This funding will support a variety of efforts aimed at preventing and reducing violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity."
The Department also announced the launch of its new crime prevention initiative, Celebrate Safe Communities (CSC). In partnership with the National Sheriffs' Association and the National Crime Prevention Council, OJP is promoting the new event throughout the country.
"Effective crime prevention calls for a strong partnership between citizens and law enforcement," said Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, Acting Assistant Attorney General for OJP. "Celebrate Safe Communities brings these two groups together and puts them on the road to addressing their most pressing concerns."
Celebrate Safe Communities is a new initiative taking place throughout the country and will help local communities organize safety-focused events. October is Crime Prevention Month and CSC observes the month by spotlighting communities' crime prevention efforts, enhancing public awareness of vital crime prevention and safety messages, and recruiting year-round support for ongoing prevention activities that help keep neighborhoods safe from crime.
In FY 2008 OJP awarded more than $1.6 billion in grants to assist in crime prevention efforts and support the justice systems of the United States. Grants were awarded to more than 3000 state, local and tribal law enforcement and criminal justice partners. Of the $1.6 billion in assistance, OJP provided more than $206 million through the following programs:
Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program: $165 million
The JAG program, administered by BJA, allows states, tribes and local governments to support criminal justice activities based on local needs and priorities. JAG funds may be used for training, personnel, equipment, and information systems for law enforcement programs. The funds may also be used for prosecution and court programs, drug treatment programs, corrections programs and technology improvement programs. Awards through the JAG program are determined by a formula that includes a minimum allocation to each state. In addition, awards are based on the state's population and crime statistics. The JAG program also requires that states subgrant a portion of the funds to units of local government, tribal government and/or faith-based and other community organizations.
Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grants Program: $14.9 million
BJA's Byrne Competitive Grants Program is authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008. This competitive grant program allows the Department to target resources where funds are needed most to prevent crime and address local needs. The FY 2008 grant program provided more than $14.9 million in grants and focused on initiatives that improve the functioning of the criminal justice system nationwide. Funding was awarded through five categories: 1) Preventing Crime and Drug Abuse; 2) Enhancing local law enforcement; 3) Enhancing local courts; 4) Enhancing local corrections and offender reentry; and 5) Facilitating justice information sharing.
G.R.E.A.T: $15.5 million
The G.R.E.A.T. Program, administered by BJA and in cooperation with DOJ's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), is a school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curriculum. In FY 2008 the program provided more than $15.5 million in grant assistance to prevent youth from becoming involved in crime, violence and gang activity. In addition funds will be used to create safer schools and communities by building positive relationships among law enforcement, families and young people. There are currently five regional training centers that provide training to sworn law enforcement officers to teach the G.R.E.A.T. curriculum in elementary and middle schools across the country.
Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program: $16.5 million
The Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program provides financial and technical assistance to state, local and tribal governments to develop and enhance drug courts. A drug court is a specialized or problem-solving court-based program that targets nonviolent criminal offenders who have alcohol and other drug addiction and dependency problems. In FY 2008 this program, administered by BJA, provided more than $16.5 million to help jurisdictions integrate substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and transitional services in a court setting. Drug courts help reduce recidivism and substance abuse among nonviolent offenders and increase an offender's likelihood of successful rehabilitation through early, continuous, and intense judicially supervised treatment, mandatory periodic drug testing, community supervision, and appropriate sanctions and other rehabilitation services.
Weed and Seed: $27 million
The Weed and Seed Initiative, administered by CCDO, brings together federal, state, and local crime-fighting agencies, prosecutors, social service providers, the public and private sectors and neighborhood residents in a joint task force to reduce violent crime, gang activity and drug abuse; strengthen neighborhoods; and promote long-term community health and resilience. In FY 2008, CCDO awarded more than $27 million for new and continuing Weed and Seed sites. There are sixteen new sites across the U.S. and funding will be used by joint task forces to identify criminal activity and target resources to prevent and reduce crime. Funding will also be used to restore buildings, support youth activities, and establish new economic opportunities. Weed and Seed is active in 320 communities including 232 funded and 88 graduated sites. The Weed and Seed strategy includes four basic components: law enforcement; community policing; prevention, intervention, and treatment; and neighborhood restoration.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.