The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. The JAG Program provides states and units of local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution and court programs, prevention and education programs, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, crime victim and witness initiatives, and planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs.
JAG funds may be used for state and local initiatives, technical assistance, strategic planning, research and evaluation (including forensics), data collection, training, personnel, equipment, forensic laboratories, supplies, contractual support, and criminal justice information systems that will improve or enhance such areas as:
- Law enforcement programs.
- Prosecution and court programs.
- Prevention and education programs.
- Corrections and community corrections programs.
- Drug treatment and enforcement programs.
- Planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs.
- Crime victim and witness programs (other than compensation).
- Mental health programs and related law enforcement and corrections programs, including behavioral programs and crisis intervention teams?
In FY 2021, BJA will be focusing nationally on the following priority areas:
- Restoring Justice – Support for SLTT Administration of Criminal Justice: In March 2020, SLTT governments began implementing various community mitigation policies to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19. As a part of these restrictions, throughout the country, courts at every level were forced to cancel or significantly scale back proceedings, which commonly included suspending in-person hearings, granting extensions of court deadlines and waivers of speedy trials, restricting access to court buildings, and postponing jury trials. This created a backlog of cases, which has impacts on criminal court operations and court staff, victims and witnesses, as well as defendants. BJA encourages state and local jurisdictions to invest JAG funds in efforts to restore justice by addressing this backlog. This could include purchase of technology to enhance the use of virtual tools to conduct outreach to witnesses and defendants, as well as for hearings and status conferences, staffing, and enhancing access to services; resources to assist the jurisdiction to develop or enhance its case management system to assess and work to eliminate the backlog of cases; building tools to support diversion and alternatives to incarceration as part of the review of backlogged cases; and technology and equipment to retrofit court houses and staff to mitigate risks to staff and those coming to court.
- Community Violence Intervention: Cities across the U.S. are experiencing a historic spike in homicides and gun violence that disproportionately impacts people of color. The recent high-profile mass shootings in Boulder (taking the lives of 10 individuals) and Atlanta (taking the lives of eight individuals, including six Asian American women) underscored the relentlessness of this epidemic. As a result, the Biden-Harris Administration and Department of Justice are undertaking a number of steps to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, reduce the risk of gun violence, and prioritize investment in community violence intervention (CVI). There are proven CVI strategies for reducing gun violence through tools other than incarceration. For example, violence interruption programs deploy trusted messengers to work directly with individuals most likely to commit gun violence, intervene in conflicts, and connect people to social and economic services to reduce the likelihood of gun violence as an answer. Hospital-based violence interventions engage people who have been shot while they are still in the hospital, connecting them to services to decrease the likelihood that they commit gun violence or are victimized in the future. BJA encourages state and local jurisdictions to invest JAG funds to tailor programs and responses to CVI in an effort to build strong, sustained partnerships with community residents and organizations to support CVI work in communities most impacted by violent crime.
- Law Enforcement Accreditation, Policy Development, and Training: The calls for police reform continue to grow, with an emphasis on protecting the sanctity of life and eliminating systemic biases, implicit or otherwise. In particular, racial profiling and related bias are particularly pernicious as they deprive communities of color of basic constitutional protections and erode confidence in policing — an essential cornerstone for crime reduction and safe communities. BJA encourages state and local jurisdictions to utilize JAG funds for the purposes of law enforcement accreditation, and developing and maintaining policies and law enforcement training focused on addressing those areas most likely to promote trust, transparency, and accountability, including use of force, racial profiling, implicit bias, procedural justice, and duty to intervene.
- Technologies to Support Transparency and Information Sharing between Law Enforcement and Communities: This will focus on software/hardware solutions designed to enhance agency transparency with the capability of facilitating information sharing with the public, promoting an agency's work, and developing data-driven programs that improve public safety and build trust. Examples could include the sharing of information about crime statistics, locations of criminal activity, aggregated information regarding internal affairs complaints, resolution of cases and issues in the community, support for community surveys, and outreach to residents to gather their feedback.
- Sustaining COVID-19 Criminal Justice Innovations: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, SLTT criminal justice agencies made strides to create innovative ways to administer justice while balancing the need to mitigate the coronavirus and maintain social distancing. While many of these innovations had an upfront cost, they will prove to be cost saving and efficient over time. For example, correctional facilities have enabled virtual programming, education, medical appointments, and family visits, as well as increased and enhanced the use of electronic monitoring. Police departments have hosted virtual community engagement events and opportunities, and courts and community corrections have increased the use of virtual staffing, status hearings, client visits, and access to treatment and support services. In addition, resources have supported the purchase of technology like headsets and hotspots to ensure confidentiality of defense counsel with clients, as well as partnerships with community partners to host outdoor events like drug court graduations. It is important for SLTT agencies to sustain these cost-saving efficiencies that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, BJA encourages SLTT agencies to utilize JAG funds for these sustainment activities.
- Innovative Forensic Technologies such as Rapid DNA for Booking Stations: Rapid DNA, or Rapid DNA analysis, is a term used to describe the fully automated (hands free) process of developing a DNA profile from a reference sample mouth swab in 1-2 hours without the need of a DNA laboratory and without any human intervention. The overall goal of the Rapid DNA initiative is to immediately enroll qualifying arrestees in CODIS and search unsolved crimes of special concern in near real time during the booking process. The FBI worked with numerous stakeholder groups to develop Standards for the Operation of Rapid DNA Booking Systems by Law Enforcement Booking Agencies, the corresponding Audit Document for these standards, and the National Rapid DNA Booking Operational Procedures Manual for the FBI approval and operation of the Rapid DNA devices in booking agencies. Below is an abbreviated list of prerequisites for federal, state, and local booking agencies to participate in Rapid DNA:
- The state must have implemented an arrestee DNA collection law that authorizes DNA sample collection from a person arrested for a specified offense at the time of arrest and for which there are no additional requirements (i.e., determination of probable cause) for the analysis of that arrestee DNA sample. Federal booking agencies already meet this prerequisite.
- Electronic Fingerprint (Live Scan) integration during the booking process for obtaining State Identification Numbers (SID) (UCN for federal booking agencies) from the State Identification Bureau (FBI for federal) in near real time.
- The booking agency must have network connectivity with the State Identification Bureau (SIB)/CJIS Systems Agency (CSA).
- The booking agency and/or state must technically integrate Rapid DNA within their automated fingerprint process in a way that must ensure only qualifying arrestees are processed.
It will be critical for booking agencies to work with their state CODIS agency to ensure all requirements are met for participation in Rapid DNA (see National Rapid DNA Booking Operational Procedures Manual). BJA encourages those states with arrestee DNA collection laws that meet the prerequisites above to consider using JAG funds to implement Rapid DNA technology (or the defined prerequisites above, such as Live Scan integration) in booking stations within their states.
The USDOJ provides additional guidance for applicants interested in funding for the following purchases: