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THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 1998202/307-0703


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Forty-nine states and 200 localities will receive federal funds totaling over $492 million from the Justice Department to help pay the costs of incarcerating undocumented aliens who have committed serious crimes in the United States and have been convicted of felony or misdemeanor offenses.

The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which was authorized by Congress under the 1994 Crime Act and is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), provides financial assistance to states and localities burdened by the costs of incarcerating criminal aliens in their correctional systems.

"In the past three years, the Justice Department has awarded over $1.1 billion to states and localities to pay for housing criminal aliens," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "We have also made substantial progress in helping state and local jurisdictions reduce the number of illegal aliens housed in these facilities by expediting deportation hearings and removals."

The largest state and local awards went to Arizona ($14.1 million), California ($223.3 million), Florida ($20.4 million), New York ($94.4 million) and Texas ($39.4 million). Los Angeles County and New York City were the two largest localities to receive awards totaling $22.3 million and $29.2 million, respectively.

"We are making 126 more awards this year than we made last year under SCAAP, which demonstrates our strong commitment to this program," said Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, who heads the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). "Once again, OJP is pleased to provide much-needed funding to our state and local partners to ease the financial burden of incarcerating undocumented criminal aliens."

Eligible applicants included states and localities that exercised authority with respect to the incarceration of an undocumented criminal alien. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, three territories (Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) and approximately 3,200 local jurisdictions with jail facilities were eligible for funding under SCAAP.

"SCAAP's success is clearly reflected by the increase in applications, particularly from localities," said BJA Director Nancy Gist. "We will continue to work closely with states and localities to encourage program participation and ensure complete and accurate reporting."

SCAAP funding is based on information provided by each applicant on the number and costs of housing criminal aliens for the fiscal year. In Fiscal Year 1997, Congress appropriated $500 million for the SCAAP program, approximately $8 million of which has been used for administration. Another $585 million has been appropriated for Fiscal Year 1998.

Attached is a list of the 1997 SCAAP recipients.

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BJA 98-127

After hours contact: James Phillips at 888/491-4487 (pager)