The Department of Justice today announced that it will award almost $57 million to support criminal justice reform and advance racial equity in the criminal justice system. The grants will advance the department’s goal to promote fairness in the nation’s courts and corrections systems and align criminal justice practices with the latest science.
“Equal justice is not a self-executing proposition — it takes work to make it real — and it will take a collective commitment from all of us at the federal, state and local levels to bring that ideal to life,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “These investments make good on a pledge by the Justice Department to promote public safety and realize the promise of a just society that recognizes the dignity and humanity of everyone.”
Funding will support efforts at the state, territory, local and Tribal levels to institute more effective and equitable criminal justice policies and practices. Funding will also support strategies to ensure the protection of defendants’ and incarcerated individuals’ constitutional rights and safety and efforts to address wrongful convictions. The grants are administered by the department’s Office of Justice Programs.
The Department of Justice, through OJP, is working to advance equity and effectiveness in the justice system. Below is a summary of awards that support justice system reforms and advance racial equity:
- OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance is awarding eight million dollars under the Field Initiated: Encouraging Innovation program, designed to support new and innovative strategies that better enable criminal justice systems to prevent and respond to emerging and chronic challenges, including strategies that will increase opportunities for diversion, reform pretrial processes, build police-community trust and promote restorative justice and racial equity.
- BJA is awarding five million dollars under the National Initiatives – Justice for All: Effective Administration of Criminal Justice Training and Technical Assistance Program, which assists state, local and Tribal jurisdictions in reducing crime and improving the functioning of the criminal justice system, specifically through support for statewide strategic planning and protection of constitutional rights under the Sixth Amendment.
- BJA is awarding $9.8 million under the Justice Counts Implementation Program, which helps states adopt a core set of criminal justice metrics so that policymakers have access to actionable data to make policy and budgetary decisions.
- BJA is awarding three million dollars under its Reimagining Justice: Testing a New Model of Community Safety initiative, which will fund the development and testing of a new or innovative approach to improving community safety and trust that is an alternative to traditional enforcement mechanisms for neighborhoods experiencing high rates of less serious and low-level criminal offenses.
- OJP’s Office for Victims of Crime is awarding nearly $300,000 under the Developing Greater Understanding of the Needs of and Resources for Victims of Criminal Justice System-Related Harm program to better understand the service needs of persons affected by a criminal justice system error or failure, develop best practices to identify these victims, determine whether services currently exist that can meet the needs of this victim population and offer recommendations for appropriate service delivery, resources, partnerships and tools.
- OVC is awarding five million dollars under the Bridging Inequities – Legal Services and Victims’ Rights Enforcement for Underserved Communities program to increase access to legal assistance for victims of crime in underserved communities by building and training a cadre of 20 legal fellows to be hosted by organizations across the nation and located in underserved communities.
- OVC is awarding $4.9 million under the Enhancing Access to Victim Services program to improve and expand the availability of accessible victim-centered, trauma-informed services for crime victims who are disabled, deaf, hard-of-hearing, limited English proficient, blind and/or visually impaired; fund accessible direct services for these victims; provide dedicated training and technical assistance to assist victim-serving organizations with the development and implementation of accessibility plans; and identify innovative approaches to serving these victims for replication within the field.
- OVC is awarding two million dollars to Ujima to support the National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, which will provide microgrants to victim-serving organizations run by/for the communities they serve with the overarching goal of increasing the number of victims accessing services in historically marginalized and underserved communities.
- OJP’s National Institute of Justice is awarding almost $800,000 under its Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System: A Study of Existing Evidence and Public Policy Implications program, which will support a comprehensive evidence-based analysis of existing evidence to examine how observed racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system might be reduced through public policy.
- BJA is awarding $2.9 million under the National Training and Technical Assistance: Capital Case Litigation Initiative, which helps states minimize the potential for error in the trial of capital cases, improve the quality of legal representation provided to indigent defendants in state capital cases and support state prosecutors in developing and implementing appropriate standards of practice and qualifications.
- BJA is awarding $7.6 million under its Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions Program, which supports efforts by wrongful conviction review entities that represent individuals with post-conviction claims of innocence to review individual cases.
- BJA is awarding $6.5 million under the Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence program, which helps defrays costs associated with postconviction case review, evidence location and DNA testing in violent felony cases (as defined by state law) where the results of such testing might show actual innocence.
In addition to the awards described above, Atlanta’s Clark University received $1.2 million under NIJ’s Research and Evaluation on Violence Against Women portfolio to conduct a campus climate survey at three Historically Black Colleges and Universities. NIJ has also awarded $2.7 million in grants under the W.E.B. Du Bois Program of Research on Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System to perform rigorous research that will help build knowledge about the connections between race, crime, violence and the administration of justice in the United States. Those grants were announced earlier and are not included in the total for this announcement.
More information about these and other OJP awards can be found on 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.