JAG impact on the criminal justice system

The JAG is deemed the most flexible grant for law enforcement

By Denise S. Schlegel

Most of the officers who attend my grant writing classes are familiar with the JAG. It is the most flexible of all justice grants for law enforcement, but lots of questions about what JAG supports and what it will allow departments to do with the grant funding arise, both in the classroom and in question submitted to Policegrantshelp.com. Hopefully an introduction to this comprehensive report will offer insight into the JAG. I strongly recommend that anyone interested in applying for a JAG grant read the full report.

The National Criminal Justice Association in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance recently published a report titled "Cornerstone for Justice/Byrne JAG and its Impact in the Criminal Justice System." This comprehensive review of the Jag provides insight into the grant funded initiatives throughout the criminal justice system. The report includes law enforcement, court systems, technology initiatives, corrections, Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment, victims support, juvenile delinquency and initiatives in strategy planning. Let me provide a summary of the report.

As stated in the report “The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant is presented as the cornerstone federal justice assistance grant program. It grew out of the omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to assist state and local government in strengthening and improving operation of law enforcement functions in the states.”

Today the JAG has expanded to include all aspects of justice and is deemed the most flexible of all of the grants for law enforcement. Police departments have used the JAG to test new and initiatives, technology, expand their policing strategies and purchase needed equipment.

Sixty percent (60%) of the total JAG funds are allocated to the state criminal justice planning agencies, the State Administering Agencies (SAAs) who then in turn pass a designated percentage through to local governments and other organizations, including non-profit service providers. The funding is administered through seven key purpose areas of law enforcement: prosecution and courts, prevention and education, corrections and community corrections drug treatment and enforcement, planning, evaluation and technology and crime victim and witness. Fifty Two Percent (52%) of JAG funding is allocated to law enforcement.

Task forces are primarily funded through the JAG. As crime becomes more complex law enforcement funding for new methodologies, strategies and technology are supported through JAG funding. Technologies for cutting-edge forensics and information and data analysis are supported to focus limited resources on challenges most likely to improve public safety. A significant portion of the Recovery Act JAG funding is for grants to support hiring and retention of local law enforcement officers. The JAG law enforcement funding breaks down into four priority function areas:

Task forces: 53.37 %
Equipment and technology 33.50 %
Operations 11.77%
Other: Terrorism, human trafficking, immigration 1.269%

It is important to note that every state uses it portion of the JAG funding differently. Nearly half of the states spend half of their grant allotment or less on law enforcement functions, while the other half spend 50% or more on law enforcement functions. To understand your states priorities for JAG funding contact your SAA. JAG also requires that your police department strategic plan align with your state plan for law enforcement.

The report highlights ten state initiatives. These projects are best practices and provide a sound picture of what justice expects from a JAG grant project. I encourage any department interested in submitting a project for JAG funding read this entire report. It will provide you with insight into what your next JAG grant should look like!

I wish you a very happy and safe holiday season.

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