Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan April 3, 2009

Byrne grants get $2 billion from stimulus

The U.S. Justice Department uses the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program to send crime-fighting money to cities, towns and counties. The grants can be used for law enforcement functions such as prosecutions, court programs, drug treatment and education, technology upgrades, planning programs, and crime victim and witness programs. Local programs are often adopted nationally, such as drug courts, methamphetamine lab reduction, antigang strategies, re-entry programs and information sharing protocols, according to the National Criminal Justice Association, a national association that represents local enforcement agencies.

Annual funding for the Byrne grants fluctuates. The program received about $500 million per year when George W. Bush took office, but funding was down to $170.4 million in 2008. (Barack Obama's statement that it was an 83 percent cut seems a bit inflated; it was more like a 67 percent cut.)

The Byrne grants were included in the economic stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The act includes $2 billion for the grants, with the stipulation that they be awarded by Sept. 30, 2010. Another $225 million was sent to the related Byrne Competitive Grant program. Job creation will be one of the factors considered in awarding the grants.

This is a significant infusion of cash, the equivalent of roughly four years of funding at $500 million a year. So we're moving this promise to Promise Kept.

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