Department of Justice Awards More Than $38 Million to Promote Reforms in the Justice System
WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs today announced awards totaling over $38 million to advance reforms in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Funding will support evidence-based approaches designed to reduce crime and incarceration and ensure the fairness of justice system operations, as well as research to broaden the base of knowledge about effective pretrial strategies and practices for reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system.
“Although the number of people held in our nation’s prisons and jails has declined in recent years, America’s incarceration rate remains far too high and continues to exact a heavy toll on our communities, especially communities of color,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon. “If America is to continue to represent the ideals of liberty and justice on which it was founded, we must reimagine our approach to crime and justice, advancing public safety while promoting the dignity, humanity and equality of all Americans.”
In 2020, the number of people held in state and federal prisons fell by 15%, to just over 1.2 million, and the jail population decreased by 25% between mid-year 2019 and mid-year 2020. Yet the U.S. continues to imprison more people, and at higher rates, than any other country in the world, with people of color disproportionately subjected to correctional sanctions. It is estimated that one in three Black men are incarcerated in their lifetimes. Jails also contribute to racial and economic inequities. About 65% of people being held in jails across the country have not been convicted of a crime but are detained in pretrial status, many because they are unable to post bail or afford to pay other fees imposed by the system.
The grants announced today will support several programs aimed at improving public safety while reducing incarceration and addressing long-standing racial disparities. Among other programs, funding will support the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, an effort led by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and introduced in two-dozen states that has helped to lower prison populations while maintaining public safety. A Juvenile Justice Reform Initiative administered by OJP’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will develop and test research-based responses to public safety challenges intended to improve outcomes for youth.
Awards from OJP’s National Institute of Justice will also support research on reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system and evaluations of pretrial strategies and their impact on the administration of justice. In addition, funds will help provide quality legal representation for defendants with post-conviction claims of innocence and will support training and technical assistance to help state corrections agencies reduce their use of restrictive housing. And a BJA Visiting Fellows Program will bring in outside experts for the purpose of providing support and guidance on program and policy development on criminal justice priorities.
Here is a list of funded grants:
- BJA is awarding nearly $5.9 million under the Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Reducing Crime by Improving Justice System Performance, which helps jurisdictions develop and implement innovative and research-based responses that address a range of criminal justice system problems designed to ensure a fair and efficient justice system, facilitate appropriate sentencing and treatment, and protect community security.
- BJA is awarding $11.8 million under the Justice Reinvestment Initiative: State-level Training and Technical Assistance Program, which will fund training and technical assistance providers to help states implement data-driven strategies to improve public safety by reducing corrections spending and reinvesting those savings in efforts to decrease crime and strengthen neighborhoods.
- OJJDP is awarding nearly $8 million under the Juvenile Justice System Reform Initiative to help states implement sustainable, research-based and data-informed recidivism reduction policies, practices and programming, and strategically reinvest cost savings in effective prevention and intervention programs.
- BJA is awarding about $5.5 million under the Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions Site Based and Training and Technical Assistance Program, which supports high quality legal representation for defendants with post-conviction claims of innocence.
- BJA is awarding about $2.8 million under the Restrictive Housing Reform Implementation Assistance Program to help state correctional agencies implement changes to their trainings, policies and practices aimed at reducing their use of restrictive housing.
- BJA is making about $1.6 million available under its Visiting Fellows Program to bring in talent and expertise from the field to inform policy and practice and create new tools for disseminating knowledge about effective and innovative approaches to priority criminal justice issues.
- NIJ has thus far made almost $100,000 available under its program titled Research on the Impact of Public Policy on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System, which supports investigator-initiated proposals to examine how observed racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system might be reduced through public policy.
- NIJ is awarding $2.7 million under its Research and Evaluation on the Administration of Justice portfolio to examine the impact of pretrial strategies on the administration of justice and public safety.
In addition to these awards, OJP is funding treatment and reentry programs, among other innovative justice system approaches. Those awards are being announced separately. Information about all of these awards is available at the OJP Grant Awards Page.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.