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Cantwell leads bipartisan group to support critical crime-fighting program

Sen. Maria Cantwell - Courtesy photo
Sen. Maria Cantwell
— image credit: Courtesy photo

For the Reporter

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) led a bipartisan letter signed by 39 Senators encouraging appropriators to continue to provide robust funding in fiscal year 2012 for a critical crime-fighting program.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program helps states and communities throughout the country reduce crime, prevent juvenile delinquency and reduce recidivism.

Last fiscal year alone, the City of Auburn was allocated $42,784 in direct award Byrne JAG funding. The funding is critical to helping local law enforcement reduce crime, prevent juvenile delinquency and minimize recidivism in the community.

"Byrne JAG is considered the cornerstone federal crime-fighting program because it supports the federal government's crucial role in spurring innovation, as well as testing and replicating evidence-based practices nationwide," wrote the Senators in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. "As you prepare the Fiscal Year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, we ask that you continue this support by providing funding for this critical program that is the leading source of federal justice assistance to state and local jurisdictions."

In Washington state, Byrne JAG funds have been used to keep vital gang and drug treatment and law enforcement programs going during a tough state budget cycle, among other things. In fiscal year 2010, Washington state received $8,431,040 in total Byrne JAG allocations, including direct awards of $496,463 to Pierce County/Tacoma, $679,846 to King County/Seattle, $243,065 to Spokane County/Spokane, and $93,165 to Yakima County/Yakima to support local efforts to address crime and prevention. These funds can be used for state and local initiatives, technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and criminal justice information systems.

"I applaud Sen. Cantwell's efforts to preserve strong Byrne JAG funding," said Mark Lindquist, Pierce County Prosecutor. "This funding provides needed resources for the Prosecutor's Office to vigorously prosecute violent criminals and gang members and help make our community safer."

The Byrne JAG program is a partnership among federal, state and local governments that tailors federal law enforcement grants to the needs of different communities. It supports a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and improve the criminal justice system that include: law enforcement programs; prosecution and court programs; prevention and education programs; corrections and community corrections programs; drug treatment programs; and planning, evaluation and technology improvement programs.

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