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Understanding the JAG program purpose areas

Currently, the JAG program funds projects that fall into seven purpose areas


This feature is part of our new JAG 2016 Success Guide, which gives you everything you need for this year’s Justice Assistance Grants program. To read all of the articles included in the guide, click here.

Across the country, law enforcement agencies are eagerly awaiting the release of the FY 2016 JAG Request for Proposals (RFP) sometime this summer. The JAG program, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, is the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.

The JAG program provides states, tribes and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of projects. As your agency considers this valuable funding opportunity, it’s important to explore the various JAG program purpose areas and whether your project ideas correspond with one or more of them.

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. Currently, the JAG program funds projects that fall into seven purpose areas:

  1. Law enforcement programs
  2. Prosecution and court programs, including indigent defense
  3. Prevention and education programs
  4. Corrections and community corrections programs
  5. Drug treatment and enforcement programs
  6. Planning, evaluation and technology improvement programs
  7. Crime victim and witness programs (other than compensation)

A recent National Criminal Justice Association report shows the breakdown of JAG allocations by purpose area. Law enforcement projects make up the majority of JAG funds at 53 percent, with corrections at 11 percent, and planning, evaluation and technology and prosecution and courts programs at 10 percent each. 

Examining each purpose area in detail
Which category does your agency or program fit into? Is JAG funding a viable option to meet your jurisdiction’s most pressing needs? To answer these questions, let’s explore in depth each of the JAG purpose areas. The 42 U.S. Code § 3751 does not supply definitions for the purpose areas, so the best way to understand what each of these categories means is to look at examples of previously funded projects within each. 

Law enforcement programs include both single-agency projects as well as multi-jurisdictional task forces. Examples of projects in this category include clandestine lab eradication, community policing, narcotics hot line task force, narcotics response team, street sales disruption, street reduction of violent crime, targeting computer and high-tech crime, targeting violent criminals and violent crime task force. 

Prosecution and court programs include such projects as career criminal prosecution, court delay reduction, differentiated case management, drug court, video arraignment and violent crime prosecution. 

Prevention and education programs encompass a variety of activities, including anti-terrorism programs, apprehension training and crime prevention for the elderly. 

Corrections and community corrections programs may incorporate correctional contraband control, correctional surveillance enhancement, enhanced job skills or reduction of drugs in prison.

Drug treatment and enforcement programs include such projects as continuing aftercare services, drug court, drug screening, intensive incarceration and intensive supervision.

Planning, evaluation and technology improvement programs include crime lab upgrades, criminal justice technology, criminal records improvement, DNA analysis, crime scene unit enhancement, evidence records preservation, information systems upgrade, law enforcement technology training and statewide criminal information sharing system. 

Crime victim and witness programs provide support (other than compensation) to crime victims and witnesses, such as victim advocates and witness support programs. 

Many innovative criminal justice practices that started with Byrne JAG funds have been replicated nationwide, such as drug courts, methamphetamine lab reduction, anti-gang strategies, re-entry programs and information-sharing protocols. When developing a project for JAG funding, the JAG Showcase and BJA Success Story web page can provide helpful insight and a valuable resource for criminal justice professionals to learn about JAG and other successful BJA-funded projects linked to innovation, crime reduction, evidence-based practices and more.

Getting the support of your State Administering Agency
Regardless of the purpose area into which your project falls, your agency or department will need the support of your State Administering Agency (SAA) in order to obtain JAG funding. In each state and territory, the governor or other chief executive officer designates an agency as the SAA through which to apply for and administer the JAG state funds. SAAs are responsible for comprehensive criminal justice planning and policy development and manage federal resources under the Byrne JAG program. The SAA is responsible for the following: 

•    Preparing and submitting the state JAG application
•    Passing through a predetermined percentage of funds to local jurisdictions as well as administering the pass-through of funds from “less than $10,000 jurisdictions” to the state police and/or jurisdictions that were not eligible for a direct award
•    Establishing funding priorities and distributing funds 
•    Ensuring subgrantees are aware of and in compliance with all programmatic and financial rules through the usage of special conditions and subgrantee monitoring
•    Complying with all reporting requirements 
•    Ensuring an inclusive planning process, including consultation with tribal representatives and other criminal justice stakeholders
•    Ensuring any court disposition or other records generated by JAG-funded programs are made available to state repositories if they are relevant to NICS determinations.

To find about your state’s JAG funding priorities and its processes for distribution, first visit the BJA State Fact Sheet website. Next, contact your SAA for more information. 

Finally, start now to prepare for the FY 2016 JAG grant cycle. You can find previous RFPs, fact sheets and FAQs at the BJA JAG program web page

Contact your SAA, obtain quotes for the equipment and services you seek to fund and begin drafting your narrative responses. When the RFP is released with a deadline of about 30 days, you’ll be glad you did.

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