March 3, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon and 55 other Attorneys General from all jurisdictions of the United States today issued a letter calling on Congress to restore funding to a federal law enforcement grant program they say is essential to state crime and drug enforcement efforts. The Attorneys General want funding restored for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne/JAG), which Congress cut by two-thirds for fiscal year 2008 from the previous year.
Byrne/JAG is currently the only source of funding available to local and state law enforcement for multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement, including methamphetamine initiatives crucial to Missouri law enforcement. The Justice Assistance Grants also are a critical source of funds for crime victims support programs, substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, law enforcement collaboration, gang prevention, and offender rehabilitation and re-entry programs.
In the omnibus FY 2008 appropriations bill signed into law last December, the Byrne/JAG program funding was cut to $170 million– a 67 percent decrease from the FY 2007 funding level of $520 million. This drastic funding cut was done despite the original funding in appropriation bills from the Senate at $660 million and $600 million from the House.
In their letter to Congress, Nixon and the other Attorneys General asserted that these cuts would devastate state law enforcement efforts by shutting down multi-jurisdictional drug and gang task forces, and cut funding to programs proven to assist citizens who are addicted to drugs to become productive members of society.
“Law enforcement agencies throughout Missouri depend on Byrne grants to help them in cooperative, multi-jurisdictional efforts against meth,” Nixon said. “If funding to this program is not restored, it could greatly hamper Missouri law enforcement’s ongoing fight against illegal drugs and other crimes.”
“The Byrne/JAG grants have been essential to local law enforcement efforts in the war on drugs,” said Sheldon Lineback, executive director of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association. “We urge Congress to support these efforts to eradicate drugs from Missouri communities.”
The Attorneys General signing on to today’s letter represent the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.