In a previous column, we began to discuss some of the ways the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council affects criminal justice throughout the state. This week we will focus on some of the Federal grants administered by CJCC, as well as Accountability Courts.
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, or Byrne-JAG, is a federal program that funds state and local criminal justice agencies. The funds are primarily intended for law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts, prevention and education programs, corrections and community corrections programs, drug treatment and enforcement programs, crime and victim witness programs.
Byrne-JAG funds are an important program for both state and local law enforcement programs. CJCC prioritizes certain areas for purposes such as drug task forces, K-9 task forces, training, IT enhancement, and information sharing.
In fiscal year 2014, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Driver Services, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Public Safety, and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center all received Byrne-JAG funds, which illustrates how important the grant is not only to local law enforcement, but also to the state. In FY15, this grant totaled $10.4 million.
The Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution (STOP) Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Grant Program is a Federal program aimed at aiding law enforcement, prosecutors, and non-profits in strengthening support for women who have been victims of violent crime.
CJCC is required to award 25 percent of the funds to programs that benefit law enforcement, 25 percent to programs that benefit prosecution, 30 percent to victims’ services programs (of which 10 percent must be for culturally-specific services; 5 percent to programs that benefit court services; 15 percent discretionary grants), and up to 10 percent on administrative costs. In FY15, this grant totaled $5.8 million.
Other notable federal grants
Two other notable grants administered by CJCC include the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Program and the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Program, (RSAT). The Forensic Science Improvement Grant’s main objectives as stated by CJCC are a reduction in the amount of time between when a sample is submitted to a lab and result delivery, a reduction in the forensic backlog, and appropriate training for medical examiner personnel.
The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Program is focused on assisting state and local governments in both the development and implementation of residential substance abuse treatment programs in correctional and detention facilities. CJCC’s main objectives also include a focus on preparing offenders for re-entry. This grant totaled $568,439 in FY15. RSAT grants totaled $749,614.
As we have discussed before, accountability courts are a major, successful component of Georgia’s criminal justice reform initiatives. CJCC is responsible for disbursing appropriated state funds to all accountability courts.
In FY13, the first year of accountability courts, CJCC disbursed $11.6 million in state general funds; in FY16, that number will rise to $17.7 million. Accountability courts consist of adult drug courts, family dependency treatment courts, mental health courts, DUI courts, veterans courts, juvenile drug courts, juvenile mental health courts, and child support problem solving courts.
Adult drug courts, the most common type of court, now cover 98 counties across the state, and the Administrative Office of the Courts lists 153 total accountability courts in its statewide directory.
Juvenile Justice incentive grant
In the FY14 general budget, the General Assembly approved the governor’s request to start the Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant. As part of that session’s landmark juvenile justice reform efforts, the grant was designed to promote community-based alternatives for kids who were currently being detained in Department of Juvenile Justice facilities. The grant started at $5 million but will total $7.37 million in FY16.
In FY15, CJCC awarded $6,820,000 in grants to 30 different courts, representing 32 counties. The grants allow judges more non-confinement options when sentencing youth offenders, and are aimed at helping reduce recidivism among youth offenders.
You can see that CJCC, while not as visible as other state criminal justice agencies, is playing a vital role as Georgia continues to lead the way in criminal justice reform. The agency helps both criminal justice agencies, in addition to providing essential services to the victims of crime in Georgia. Visit the agency’s Web site for a full list of grants and more information on the discussed grants, as well as grants not mentioned. Grants Web site: www.cjcc.georgia.gov/grant-programs.
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