With the steady rise of crime over the decades, congress has issued various acts and policies to ensure safety on the streets of America. To finance safety measures government grants are available to help law enforcement, individuals, and organizations combat crime. These special programs aid in crime prevention through different avenues like correctional institution and youth groups. This can be seen in the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
On February 17, 2009 the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed to legislation by President Obama. This legislation is designed to provide funding to the United States Department of Justice, also referred to the DOJ. The purpose of these funds give individuals and organizations the ability “to combat violence against women, to fight internet crimes against children, to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system, to assist victims of crime, and to support youth mentoring”(DOJ, 2009). If any person wants to help society and reduce unlawful behavior, they may apply for a grant and receive money for these services.
The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 began the history of what is known as the Byrne Discretionary Grant Program. It is the beginning of federal support to diminish crime. After this, came the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 which provided funding for substance abuse and limit drug trafficking. Amended in 1988, the Act “and programs were renamed The Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program” (Laney, 1998). Thereafter Congress has continued to award the program millions of dollars towards crime prevention programs. This includes, “multi- jurisdictional drug and gang task forces, to crime prevention and domestic violence programs, courts, corrections, treatment, and justice information sharing initiatives” (DOJ, 2009).
The Office of Justice Program maintains the yearly budget of net awards provided to the Byrne Discretionary Grant. After the enactment of 1994’s, Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the annual budget had increased significantly. $361 billion was given to the Byrne Program in 1997. A year later, in 1998, Congress gave the program a large surge, receiving $509 million. However, it was last reported, in 2009, that the funding available had reached an access of $1.9 billion. This allows state and local governments the opportunity to either establish or improve current programs or obtain needed service advancement like technology and equipment to better serve and protect.
There is a stringent process to receive these funds. First one must apply for the Byrne Discretionary Grant. This is done by going to the Department of Justice official website to determine eligibility. “Applicants are limited to units of local government” (DOJ, 2009). A unit of local government has a large range. This includes Native American and Alaskan Native tribes and tribal councils to any village, parish, or town. As a result, applicants must be individuals or “organization[s] that performs law enforcement functions” (DOJ, 2009).
To increase likelihood of being awarded with the Byrne Discretionary Grant, the funds must go towards an area of purpose. Although all areas which can reduce crime are acceptable, there are specialty areas that the Dept. of Justice is looking for. This includes drug education and treatment programs to other avenues such as “crime victim and witness programs” (DOJ, 2009). Furthermore, the Dept. of Justice takes interest in technology advances and improvement that will aid the community through crime education and prevention. However, purpose areas are not limited to correction facilities, courts, and youth mentoring programs. It can be half-way houses or domestic violence prevention centers or homeless shelters.
There are several provisions included on how funds are used when allocated. One provision addresses buildings and infrastructure. Monies received may not be used to buy or purchase land or “construction or major renovation to a correctional facility” (DOJ, 2009). In addition, the Byrne Assistance Grant cannot be used outside the arena of law enforcement and crime prevention. “Buy American” requirements are also included, meaning that all goods must be manufactured in America as well as promote job creation and wage requirements if applicable.
To ensure correct use of funds, the care of each grantee is monitored by the Office of Justice Program’s Assistant Attorney General. As requested by the president, use of funds and program progress must be reported to the Justice Program throughout the fiscal year. Thus, “recipients must be prepared to track and report on the specific outcomes and benefits attributable to the use of Recovery Act funds” (DOJ, 2009). Not only must data and information be provided, they must be measured and identified in quarterly reports. Reports include cost, administrative fees, materials, supplies, and other expenses like tracking and program results or material.
Even with government monitoring, it was reported that “monitoring should be better documented” (“Justice Discretionary Grants”, 2001). With a considerable growth of funds given to the Byrne Program, Washington D.C that reports the money was not properly managed. This was seen as “a substantial number of Byrne files did not contain progress and financial reports significant to cover the grant period” (“Justice Discretionary Grants:”, 2001). Some organizations awarded failed to submit any report at all. In addition, a staggering 68% produced their progress reports late and 29% did not contain the monitoring plan that followed the required guidelines.
Close monitoring is a package deal with the grant program. The protocols and rules establish grantees between the government and organizations that funds are used appropriately and with positive results. The Byrne Assistance Program awarded nearly a hundred grants in the year 2000 adding up to $69 million. In the previous year, 110 grants were awarded. As a result, “discretionary funds are awarded on a competitive basis” (Laney, 1998). However, some programs or initiatives can receive priority over others. These priorities are issued by the Byrne Program it’s self with help from Congress. It can be seen in bills passed or amended throughout the Congressional year. In this way, all applications are subject to a review by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
In this world nothing is considered perfect. Most things in life require hard work to become the best it can be. This holds true to the criminal justice system. The system requires assistance to combat crime and reach out to victim. From retraining officers and changing tactics to informational programs for youth, all help is good help to provide a safe environment. Specialized grant program like Byrne Discretionary Grant Program, provides an avenue to crime prevention. It is a useful and creditable source of funding that is closely monitored and ensures a peaceful community for generations to come.
(2001). Justice discretionary grants: Byrne program and violence against women office grant monitoring should be better documented (GOA 02 25). Retrieved from General Accounting Office of Washington D.C website: http://books.google.com/books?id=xkZ8NTeUDQEC&pg=PA32&dq=byrne+discretionary+grant+program&hl=en&ei=sp7RTr2rHci4tgfrhOW4DQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=byrne%20discretionary%20grant%20program&f=false
Laney, G. (2008). Crime control assistance through the byrne programs (97-265 GOV).Retrieved from CRS Report for Congress website: http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs534/m1/1/high_res_d/97-265gov_1998May20.pdf
(2009). Retrieved from U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Assistance website: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/recoveryJAG/JAGrecoveryLock