Applications for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program (JAG grants) are now being accepted through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) for Fiscal Year 2017.
JAG grants help fund programs related to law enforcement, prosecution and prevention, as well as community corrections, drug treatment, technology improvement and a variety of other areas.
In addition, the BJA is encouraging JAG grants applicants to focus their programs on five key areas. These are the focus issues for the coming year:
#1 Reducing gun violence
States are encouraged to invest funds in programs dedicated to combatting gun violence. This would include enforcing existing firearm laws and enhancing reporting efforts to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
#2 Transitioning to NIBRS
Recipients are encouraged to use funds to aid law enforcement agencies in their switch to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The FBI has designated the NIBRS as the new standard in crime reporting.
#3 Officer safety and wellness
An emphasis on safety, as well as officer health is encouraged. Line-of-duty deaths in 2016 (135 deaths) increased by 10 percent over 2015 (123 deaths). The BJA encourages recipients to fund programs related to officer health and wellness, as well as tactical training.
#4 Border security
Violence against officers working to curb human- and drug-trafficking near America’s borders is rising. BJA encourages recipients to use funds for hiring, training and outfitting officers, resulting in better protection.
#5 Collaborative prosecution
BJA emphasizes the importance of strong working relationships between law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Cooperation between the two will help prevent crime increases.
Certain items funded by JAG grants may have additional stipulations, including:
- Body-worn cameras
- Body armor
- DNA database uploading and testing
- Interoperable communications
Awarded funds can be reduced for non-compliance with federal standards. States that fail to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) could lose five percent of their JAG grant. Recipients who fail to follow the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) could lose 10 percent of their funds.
JAG grants must be applied for by the chief executive of the state, typically the governor, and financial records must be kept on funded programs. As specified in the solicitation, “to help ensure that States consider the impact of JAG funding decisions across the entire criminal justice system, BJA strongly encourages each State to bring all criminal justice system stakeholders together in the strategic planning process. The strategic planning process should include local governments, and representatives of all segments of the criminal justice system.” The process should help determine which projects at the local level will be funded over the next four years.
Direct awards are a minimum of $10,000.
State applications are due by Aug. 25. An RFP for additional JAG funding set aside for local jurisdiction applicants is imminent.
Updated 8/7/17: The DOJ issued two new requirements for compliance with Section 1373.