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Attorney General Kilmartin Urges Congress to Support Byrne JAG Funding for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Programs

Citing the $1.14 million at stake to Rhode Island law enforcement, criminal justice programs and rehabilitation programs, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin today joined 45 attorneys general in sending a letter to the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations leadership urging them to support federal funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program in the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill. Kilmartin is seeking to ensure that Byrne JAG monies are, at the very least, level-funded. In the past two fiscal years, these crucial funds have been reduced by almost one-third.

In 2011, Rhode Island received $1,144,584 in Byrne JAG funding to support a number of programs including the Drug Court, mental health programs, hate crimes training, rehabilitation and re-entry programs, among others (see chart below).

Byrne JAG grants play a central role in the law enforcement efforts of states and territories, and the funds may be deployed broadly across the criminal justice system. "Some programs have shown to be central to the core functions of government and are deserving of continued funding. Byrne JAG is one of those programs," said Kilmartin in the letter.

One of the most successful programs funded through Byrne JAG is the Rhode Island Superior Court Adult Dug Court, which is a supervised jail diversion program for individuals suffering from alcohol and drug addiction.

Kilmartin describes Byrne JAG as, "the cornerstone federal justice assistance program because of its flexibility, breadth, and ability to leverage, and therefore stretch, other state, federal, and local funds. Byrne JAG grants are guided by a statewide strategic plan which ensures the most effective use of the federal funds."

In addition to the flexibility of the Byrne JAG funds to be targeted where the need is greatest, these funds also have implications for future public safety measures. Byrne JAG is focused on developing evidence-based, data-driven initiatives to learn what works in preventing and fighting crime, and how best to replicate successful programs in other jurisdictions.

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