Calling the funding essential to the operation of state crime and drug enforcement efforts, the Attorney General Hardy Myers and 55 Attorneys General from all jurisdictions of the United States today issued a letter calling on Congressional leaders to restore funding to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) Program.
Byrne-JAG is currently the only source of funding available to local and state law enforcement agencies for multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement, including methamphetamine initiatives, and is a critical source of funds for drug courts, law enforcement collaboration, gang prevention, and prisoner reentry programs
In federal fiscal year 2007, the Byrne-JAG program was funded at $520 million. For that same time period in 2008, the Senate had originally funded the Byrne-JAG program at $660 million and the House at $600 million in their respective appropriations bills. However, in the omnibus 2008 appropriations bill signed into law in December of 2007, the Byrne-JAG program funding was cut to $170 million for the coming year - a 67 percent decrease from 2007 funding levels.
Attorneys General assert in their letter that these cuts would devastate state law enforcement efforts by shutting down multi-jurisdictional drug and gang task forces, requiring layoffs of police and prosecutors, and cutting funding to programs proven to assist drug-addicted citizens in becoming productive members of society.
"Byrne funds are critical in our fight against drugs and violent crimes." Myers said. "If the severe cuts to Byrne funding are not restored, many of the multi-jurisdictional task forces will cease to exist, destroying years of cooperation and progress in crime and drug enforcement."
The effort to restore funding has been spearheaded by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, and Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.
Stephanie Soden, (503) 378-6002