Issue: Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
The JAG program replaced the Byrne Formula Grant and Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) as the primary block grant funding stream for state and local criminal justice agencies, including the courts.
State court leaders advocate for state court access to federal funding streams and increased collaboration between state courts and the administering executive branch agencies. (CCJ/COSCA Resolution 08-A-8)
In the 110th Congress, the Senate passed S 231, to extend the authorization of the JAG program at $1.1 billion for another six years. The prior JAG authorization bill set funding at $1.1 billion for FY 2006, but only “such sums as may be required” for FY 2007 through FY 2009. The bill sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), extended the $1.1 billion authorized level through the life of the program in a statement of support intended to impact this year’s funding process. The President signed the bill on 7/30/08 making it PL 110-294.
In prior Congresses, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation that would re-instate the strategic planning process in the disbursal of Byrne JAG funds. This would require that state courts and other criminal justice system stakeholders be consulted in the development of a comprehensive State-wide plan detailing how grants received will be used to improve the administration of the criminal justice system. Senator Leahy last introduced the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S. 822) on 4/25/13, but it died at the end of the 113th Congress.
The history of JAG funding has been as follows:
For FY 2016, the House has recommended $345M and the Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended $317M for Byrne JAG. With the approval of the omnibus spending bill (PL 114-113), the Byrne JAG program got an increase to $347 million. The Justice for All bill was introduced on 2/24/16 (S 2577/HR 4602).
Preliminarily, the House/Senate spending committees have recommended $476M for JAG for FY 2017. This is an increase over FY2016 levels. After a year-end CR extended FY 2016 spending levels until April, the 115th Congress will impose its will on the FY 2017 appropriations and as well as for FY 2018.