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 the 114th Congress, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation (S. 822) 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. President Obama signed the bill on 12/16/16 making it PL 114-324.
The history of JAG funding has been as follows:
Preliminarily, the House/Senate spending committees have recommended $476M for JAG for FY 2017. This is an increase over FY2016 levels. A year-end CR extended FY 2016 spending levels until April 2017, allowing the 115th Congress to impose its will on the FY 2017 appropriations, as well as for FY 2018.
President Trump signed HR 244 (PL-115-31) the Omnibus Appropriations Act, which finished the FY17 funding cycle. Overall most programs, including Byrne, fared well. Byrne received $335M. President Trump unveiled his FY18 budget on 5/22/17. The Trump Byrne JAG request is $333M for FY18. The House and Senate Appropriations Committee have weighed in on funding amounts. The House recommends $444M and the Senate recommends $405M for Byrne JAG. On 8/25/17 regulations for the Byrne JAG program called for state wide consultation, including courts, beginning with the FY 2019 solicitation announcement. NCSC highlighted the Byrne JAG program in a briefing for congressional staff in 3/17/17.