April 03, 2012

Gillibrand Fights to Protect Investment for Key Law Enforcement Program to Fight Crime, Drug Trafficking

Byrne JAG Program Provides Critical Assistance for Local Law Enforcement to Fight Against Gangs And Meth - Faces Tough Budget Cuts

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined a bipartisan coalition of Senators in urging the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies to fully support the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program, a grant program designed to assist law enforcement agencies in their efforts to reduce crime, prevent juvenile delinquency and reduce recidivism. Last year, New York State received a total of $19.745 million. 

“The Byrne JAG Grant Program is an important investment for our communities,” Senator Gillibrand said. “As law enforcement agencies across the state are facing budget cuts during these tough economic times, the funding from this program helps create and implement innovative ways to fight and prevent crime, keeping our communities safe. This program is a cornerstone in crime-fighting initiatives in our criminal justice system.” 

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. From October 20008 through September 2011, states that received 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 complete text of the bipartisan letter is below:

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.