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Remarks of Amy L. Solomon, PDAAG at the Fiscal Year 2024 President's Budget Rollout Stakeholders Briefing, Washington, DC

      Thank you, Hugh [Clements]. And thank you to Jolene [Laurie] and Allison [Randall], and of course to the Associate Attorney General. And thanks to you, our stakeholders, for partnering with us on a mission to support safe and just communities.

I want to briefly recognize my colleagues who are joining me today:

  • First, OJP’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Operations and Management, Maureen Henneberg.
  • I’m also pleased that we have here our Chief Financial Officer, Rachel Johnson, and our Deputy CFO, Brian Horn. They and their team have really done the lion’s share of the work bringing this briefing together.
  • Then we have the heads of OJP’s program offices, or their designees, who will help address questions at the end:
    • Kris Rose, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime;
    • Nancy La Vigne, Director of the National Institute of Justice;
    • Liz Ryan, Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention;
    • Helena Heath, Director of the SMART Office (Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking);
    • Ruby Qazilbash from our Bureau of Justice Assistance, who’s here on behalf of BJA’s Director, Karhlton Moore; and
    • Doris James on behalf of Alex Piquero, Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

      Before turning to the FY 24 budget, I want to make sure you all know that we’ve posted the FY 23 program plan to the Department of Justice website, which offers an overview of all of this year’s solicitations across all of the grantmaking offices. We’ve also already released many of OJP’s FY 23 solicitations, which are posted on our website. So please, engage, apply and share the notices with your networks.

      Now, let’s turn to the reason we’re all here – the FY 24 budget. The President’s budget requests over $5.7 billion to support OJP’s budget priorities, which are laid out on the slide:

  1. Advancing public safety, reducing violent crime and increasing community trust;
  2. Accelerating justice system reforms that promote community safety and well-being, racial equity and justice for all;
  3. Transforming the juvenile justice system into one that is effective and equitable, that treats children as children and empowers youth to lead healthy, productive lives;
  4. Ensuring rights, access to services and equity for all victims of crime; and
  5. Advancing science and innovation to guide policy and practice.

      Here we are at the 30,000 feet level. We’re investing in a spectrum of new and existing programs that further our mission. Of the total OJP budget, $3.4 billion supports discretionary program funding. Looking at the pie chart on the left, you can see that this includes more than $2.4 billion for what Congress calls the state and local law enforcement assistance account; $760 million for juvenile justice; $141 million for research, evaluation and statistics before the set-aside; and nearly $35 million for Public Safety Officers’ Benefits programs for disability and educational assistance.

      On the pie chart to the right, you’ll see $2.3 billion that supports OJP’s mandatory requests, which – if enacted by Congress – are then funded on an annual basis. There is $1.2 billion for the Crime Victims Fund and $884 million for a new Gun Crime Prevention Strategic Fund, which I’ll turn to in a moment. The remaining mandatory funding supports the death benefit portion of the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program and the Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund.

      Now I’d like to highlight some of our priority programs.

      First, this budget makes good on the President’s commitment to advance community safety, address the impact of gun violence and improve community trust. The budget includes installment one of $30 billion in mandatory resources to fully fund the President’s Safer America Plan, a comprehensive blueprint to protect the safety of our communities through evidence-based strategies that promote effective and accountable crime prevention.

      The Gun Crime Prevention Strategic Fund is a core part of the Safer America Plan and a substantial new entry in the budget, so I want to talk through this for a moment. This is a five-year mandatory program funded at $884 million annually. This proposal will provide communities with a new line of much-needed resources to prevent crime and support law enforcement.

      Funding will support investments in people, training, technology and knowledge sharing. The goal here is to enhance law enforcement access to promising technology and modernized training, protective equipment and investigative resources like tools used in forensic analysis. It can also be used to hire critical personnel, including crime analysts, technologists, forensic scientists, investigative analysts, legal assistants, social scientists, youth outreach specialists, behavioral health clinicians – and even local prosecutors – to implement comprehensive public safety plans as well as task forces to bring down homicide and gun violence rates.

      The Fund will invest in officer safety and wellness, and help modernize the recruitment and retention of a 21st century workforce. It can also support case closure teams and criminal justice coordinating councils. And importantly, the Fund will expand Crime Gun Intelligence Center and National Public Safety Partnership sites – two successful DOJ efforts that are helping cities reduce violent crime. In essence, this Fund would create a robust, dedicated resource for BJA to help states and cities deal with emerging issues around gun violence and to develop innovative solutions.

      You can also see here that $200 million is requested for Community Violence Intervention efforts. And with the funding provided by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, there will actually be $250 million available for this critical program in FY 24. Along with funding requested for the Department of Health and Human Services, this funding is part of the Administration’s goal to provide $5 billion over 10 years for community violence interventions.

      As many of you know, Congress made a total of $100 million available in FY 22 and 23 to launch this effort, and OJP made the first CVI awards last September to 47 site-based grantees, and several other grants that support research, technical assistance and intermediaries who will be making subawards to smaller community-based organizations. We’re coming off a successful CVI conference in St. Louis that brought together over 400 people from across the country.

      The FY 24 budget will enable us to continue scaling these early investments and focus on street outreach programs, hospital-based violence intervention programs and other local efforts designed to support community-driven approaches to prevent gun violence as a complement to law enforcement. Final word on this: the FY23 solicitation is open now, so please share this opportunity with your networks.

      The budget also requests over $542 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, which is the primary source of flexible criminal justice funding for state and local jurisdictions. Under this line item, Project Safe Neighborhoods gets a boost of $20 million, to $40 million – and that $20 million addition would be competitively awarded. Twenty million dollars in new funding will support training to address racial profiling and de-escalation. And $28 million is requested for the Criminal Justice Smart Suite program. This builds on the work of BJA’s previous Smart Suite programs, like Smart Policing and Smart Probation, focusing on researcher-practitioner partnerships. The purpose here is to help jurisdictions build their analytical capabilities to solve local problems and institute reforms that ensure fair and just treatment.

      It’s not listed here, since it was a part of the funding provided in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, but there’s also $150 million available to support the new Byrne JAG State Crisis Intervention Program. This is another major effort to reduce firearm violence by funding Extreme Risk Protection Order programs, state crisis intervention court proceedings and other front-end gun violence reduction interventions. We made the first awards, for FY 22 and FY 23, under this new program in February, and we’re eager to help states effectively implement these resources.

      This next item is so important: $10 million for the Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance program, which is the only dedicated source of federal emergency assistance to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. This funding is, unfortunately, so essential, and it hasn’t been funded since FY 19.

      And $5 million is allocated to expand the National Law Enforcement Knowledge Lab, which was launched last April. This is an essential resource hub devoted to supporting law enforcement command staff and line officers with the policies, practices, strategies and tactics required to support constitutional policing.

      This budget makes substantial investments in DNA-related and forensics programs. Building a strong forensic science infrastructure is vital to the integrity of our justice system. FY 24 investments include: $147 million for a suite of DNA-Related and Forensic Programs and Activities, and $100 million for the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative – to re-double our commitment to ending the rape kit backlog.

      The budget also requests funding for new programs, including: $20 million for training to improve the investigation of and response to sexual assault cases; $4 million to identify and disseminate evidence-based practices in sex offender management and sexual violence prevention; and $15 million for a new Forensics Science Research and Development Program (prior slide).

      Several programs support training and technical assistance: There’s $5 million for a new forensics training and technical assistance program; $5 million for the Tribal Access Program to help tribes access national crime information systems; and $5 million to develop a new Capacity Building Center. The goal here is to support community-based organizations that serve historically marginalized and underserved communities.

      This Administration remains committed to addressing hate crimes. The budget invests $43 million in several programs. There’s $15 million for the Jabara Heyer NO HATE Act Program. his was launched in FY 22 to support victims and improve hate crime reporting, particularly through the National Incident-Based Reporting System. Ten million dollars for the Community-based Approaches to Prevent and Address Hate Crimes program, also launched in FY 22. $10 million to expand Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Grants. There’s $5 million for a new Youth-Focused Hate Crime Prevention and Intervention Initiative. And $3 million to continue support for the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act Program to help solve cold cases.

      Next, the budget furthers our work to advance reforms across the justice system, specifically to promote community safety and well-being, to advance racial equity and expand access to justice. Here are some of the highlights:

      The big one is a new initiative called Accelerating Justice System Reform, which is a key part of the Administration’s Safer America Plan. This is a $300 million program in FY24, and a $15 billion mandatory proposal over 10 years. This effort will provide jurisdictions with resources to implement evidence-informed strategies that prevent violence while easing the burden on police and courts in situations that do not merit their intervention. It also incentivizes reforms that improve community safety, while reducing disparities and unnecessary incarceration.

      This initial investment would help seed a wide range of evidence-informed strategies, including prevention, diversion and reentry programs; alternatives to incarceration; pre-trial and community supervision reforms; job training, educational and housing programs for youth; and co-responder models and other cross-system partnerships that enable communities to better serve people with behavioral health disorders and divert them from the justice system when appropriate. Our goal is to create an ecosystem of evidence-based prevention, intervention, diversion, and reentry programs in order to build stronger, safer communities, while achieving more equitable outcomes.

      To receive these critical resources, states must make a tangible commitment to address policies and practices that drive incarceration rates without making communities safer. States will unlock additional funds as they reach key implementation milestones and metrics of success. Again, this is part of the broader effort to address inequities and disparities in the justice system, and help communities address issues that would be better handled outside the justice system.

      The budget also includes $35 million for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which has long been a cornerstone of OJP’s bipartisan reform work. I also want to highlight the Family-Based Alternative Sentencing Program, which is designed to provide diversion options for parents and promote family reunification. The President’s budget requests $3.5 million. And then we’re asking for $3 million to continue our support of the National Center on Restorative Justice.

      The FY 24 budget continues our substantial investments in prevention, diversion, reentry, trauma-informed care, culturally-specific services and treatment for people with behavioral health disorders. We’re requesting a total of $411 million for the range of programs under the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act. There’s $190 million for the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program; $88 million to continue important investments in juvenile, adult and family drug courts; $40 million for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, which includes the relatively new Connect and Protect effort that helps law enforcement and behavioral health partners work together in responding to crises. CARA also includes $35 million for Residential Substance Abuse Treatment; $33 million for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program; and $25 million for Veterans Treatment Courts.

      Skipping down to the bottom of the slide, another $10 million is requested for training to improve police-based responses to people with mental illness. Taken together, these investments will help people who have behavioral health disorders get the support and treatment they need instead of being drawn deeper into the justice system.

      I don’t want to leave this slide without lifting up our bipartisan Second Chance Act efforts, which have invested in hundreds of adult and youth reentry programs in almost every corner of the country. We’ve come so far in this area over the last two decades, yet there is still much to learn and a challenge to scale up what works. Accordingly, the President requests a total of $117 million for Second Chance programs. This includes site-based work as well as continued support for the National Reentry Resource Center and the new Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Program.

      This next slide is a continuation of the budget’s focus on reform, specifically in the juvenile justice space. Consistent with the research on what is most effective at reducing offending and improving outcomes among young people, our goal here is to keep youth out of the system, and to help them stay in school and remain connected to their families and communities whenever possible.

      One of the highlights is the Community-Based Alternatives to Youth Incarceration initiative, requested at $50 million. This will support jurisdictions to implement evidence-informed reforms that will help advance community safety, reduce youth incarceration and repurpose empty juvenile detention facilities in ways that benefit young people and communities.

      You’ll also see some familiar and essential programs: Our Part B Formula Grants program, which is a key source of funding for states seeking to implement comprehensive juvenile justice plans. You can also see youth mentoring, our missing and exploited children portfolio and OJJDP’s delinquency prevention program, all requested at substantial and increased levels.

      We’re continuing to propose a big boost for our youth indigent defense program, at $40 million. The President’s budget recognizes the importance of scaling up this work to improve access to justice.

      A couple of new programs to highlight, too. We’re requesting $30 million for Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Collaboration to help the field address the complex needs of dual-status youth. We’re requesting $15 million to Eliminate Records-Related Barriers to Youth Success. There’s a growing movement across the country to lower the bars to the sealing and expungement of criminal history records, and this new program will give a boost to those efforts.

      We’re also requesting $6 million for a new Youth and Family Engagement Training and Technical Assistance program. The purpose here is to help communities effectively partner with directly impacted youth and their families in developing youth justice policies and practices. Essentially, this program will ensure that young people who have lived experience, as well as their families, will have meaningful input into the youth justice strategic plans and improvement efforts in their states.

      Expanding services and support for victims remains a top priority for OJP. I’m particularly proud of some of the recent investments OVC has made in advancing equity and reaching underserved populations – including through the new National Center for Culturally Responsive Services and the Hospital-Based Victim Services Program.

      Turning to FY 24, the President’s budget requests $1.2 billion for victim programs supported by the Crime Victims Fund. This will support formula and discretionary programs that address victim compensation and victim assistance. And it will continue the up-to-five-percent set-aside for tribal victim assistance.

      I want to acknowledge that this total is a decrease from recent enacted budgets. The Administration believes that lowering the cap in FY 24 is necessary to protect the balance of the fund over the long term, so that it can continue to serve victims in the years ahead. I want to emphasize our commitment to crime victims and that we will keep working hard to ensure rights, access, and equity for all victims. You’ve got a very strong champion here in OVC.

      The budget also includes $107 million for OVC’s human trafficking programs. OVC is the largest federal funder of services to victims of human trafficking in the United States, and the budget will help us bolster those investments.

      Finally, this budget reflects a strong commitment on the part of the Department to improve our knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through research and scientific innovation. We’ve been working at OJP over the last two years to ground policy and program decisions in science and data, and to build the evidence base for the field at-large. And the President’s budget will enable us to increase our investments in vital research and statistical activities.

      As you can see, the budget requests $63 million for NIJ and $78 million for BJS to meet a number of data collection and research priorities. This is almost twice the enacted FY 23 level and is essential to building the research and data infrastructure this country needs.

      In terms of highlights, the BJS base budget supports statistical data collections for death in custody reporting and maternal health of incarcerated women, as well as investments in the National Crime Victimization Survey through direct appropriations rather than having it partially funded by the Crime Victims Fund dollars.

      The NIJ base budget supports new research focused on police reform and measuring the impact of policing programs and practices on community engagement and trust. Funding will also broaden the social and behavioral sciences and expand STEM capacity at Minority Serving Institutions. The goal here is to develop evidence that better addresses the challenges around promoting public safety and creating an equitable justice system. There’s also funding in both budgets to support Evidence Act implementation.

      Importantly, the FY 24 budget requests that three percent of OJP’s discretionary budget authority be set-aside to support research and statistics. This is an increase over previous years’ two-percent set-aside, and would translate to a total of $94.5 million additional dollars for our science agencies.

      I want to be clear that this is a much-needed increase and a step toward better aligning funding levels for the Department’s science agencies with their counterparts across the federal government. Together, the budget includes over $235 million for research, evaluation and statistics. This will build critical knowledge for the field, and greatly inform our policy and program work here at the Department.

      These are the priorities laid out by the President for OJP in 2024. We plan to post this presentation – and more in-depth resources – on our website so that you can go through them at your own pace.

      I’ll just say, in closing – and I think I speak for my colleagues – that with the resources this budget will make available, and with the knowledge, expertise and commitment of our partners in the field, we’ve got an incredible opportunity to work together to reimagine public safety in our country.

      We’re eager to hear your feedback, and we want to open it up now for your questions and comments. We’ll do our best to get to your questions while we’re here, but if we run out of time, we’ll be sure to get back to you after the session.

      I want to thank you all for your time today and for your commitment to our shared mission of building safe and just communities.


Date Published: March 13, 2023