Toolkit: How to Use Byrne Justice Assistance Grants

USE BYRNE JUSTICE ASSISTANCE GRANTS TO EXPAND AND IMPROVE
ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION, REENTRY SERVICES, AND SUBSTANCE USE TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

Introduction

With state, federal, and private resources spread thinner than at any time in recent memory, funding for alternatives to incarceration (ATI), reentry services, and substance use treatment and prevention services is limited, and many providers are looking for ways to expand the breadth of funding streams they use to initiate, maintain, expand, or improve these important programs and services. The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) program provides states with formula-based funding to support programs that address local public safety concerns, and funds made available for the program are available to be used to support alternatives to incarceration, reentry services, and substance use treatment and prevention. Byrne/JAG presents a great opportunity for state and local governments to partner with local service providers to improve public safety and public health, to restore communities devastated by drugs and poverty and the resulting crime, and to do so without placing additional stress on state or local budgets.

To view a factsheet on the Byrne/JAG program, its funding, formula, and methods of distribution, click here.

For information about and examples of how state and local governments and nonprofits use Byrne/JAG to support ATI, reentry services, and substance use treatment and prevention, click here.


Partnering with state or local government

Why must nonprofits partner with state or local government to use federal Byrne/JAG funds for ATI, reentry services, or substance use treatment and prevention services? As discussed in the Byrne/JAG Factsheet, Byrne/JAG funding is made available on a formula basis as direct grants to only state, local, and tribal governments engaged in the promotion of public safety. Direct grantees, all of which are government entities, may use funds to make subawards to, partner with, or contract with nonprofits to provide services or support, including ATI, reentry services, or substance use treatment and prevention services.

STEP 1: Determine which state or local agency is responsible for administering Byrne/JAG funds in your jurisdiction

If your organization is seeking to partner with a state government, then Byrne/JAG funds will be administered by the State Administering Agency (SAA). For a list of each state’s SAA, click here.

If your organization is seeking to partner with local government, you will first need to determine if the local government unit with which you wish you partner is eligible for direct or “pass through” Byrne/JAG funding.

Go to the JAG Program web page and click on “JAG Allocations” for the fiscal year for which you wish to apply. Then click on your state to see which units of local government within the state are eligible for direct Byrne/JAG funding.

As discussed in the Byrne/JAG Factsheet, if your local government is not listed, it is not eligible for direct Byrne/JAG funding, but it may still be eligible for “pass through” funding.

Once the local government’s eligibility is determined, nonprofits should find out what agency within the local government is responsible for administering Byrne/JAG grants by visiting their local government’s website or by contacting the state SAA, the executive branch of the local government, or local law enforcement.

STEP 2: Find out if your state’s SAA or local government administering agency submitted a Byrne/JAG application that includes funding for ATI, reentry services, or substance use treatment or prevention services

Contact your state’s SAA or local government administering agency and ask whether they included funding for these activities in their most recent Byrne/JAG application to the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

If the SAA or local government agency did not include requests for such funding, continue to Step 3.

If the SAA or local government agency did include requests for such funding, go to Step 4.

STEP 3: Work with your state or local government to request that the next Byrne/JAG application includes funding for ATI, reentry services, and substance use treatment and prevention

Why is it important for state and local governments to use Byrne/JAG funds to expand or improve ATI, reentry services, and substance use treatment and prevention? In advocating for the use of Byrne/JAG funds to support these types of programs, it is imperative that advocates and grant applicants explain the relationship between the program activities and enhanced public safety. Decision-makers have to know about the connections among untreated addictions and crime, the quality of reentry services and recidivism rates, and alternatives to incarceration and healthy, stable communities in order to make informed decisions about how to expend scarce public safety resources.

How can nonprofits work with state or local authorities to promote funding of ATI, reentry services, or substance use treatment and prevention services? Since the substance of the application submitted by the SAA or local government administering agency is likely to be influenced by the state or local legislature’s public safety priorities, the state or local executive’s priorities, and decision-makers within the SAA or local government administering agency, it may be beneficial to communicate with each of these components of government.

  • Legislature: In many jurisdictions, the SAA or local government administering agency will seek to submit a Byrne/JAG application to BJA that reflects public safety priorities established by the state or local legislature. Therefore, it can be useful to advocate for legislation that authorizes, funds, or prioritizes ATI, reentry services, or drug and alcohol services.
  • Executive Branch: Although the task of creating and submitting a Byrne/JAG grant application to BJA is generally delegated to a SAA or local government agency, ultimate authority to approve or reject that application prior to its submission lies with the state’s governor or the chief executive of the municipality. Therefore, it may be beneficial to reach out to the governor or chief executive for prioritization of ATI, reentry services, or alcohol and drug services.

  • SAA or Local Administering Agency: The SAA or local government administering agency will have the most involvement with the Byrne/JAG grant application process, and so it is very important to communicate with the agency to request that the state or local government application contains requests for funding of ATI, reentry services, and drug and alcohol services. This should be done not only prior to the publication of the grant proposal but also during the statutorily mandated period for public comment on the proposal.
  • STEP 4: Determine whether your state SAA or local government administering agency is seeking to partner with, make subawards to, or make contracts with nonprofits to provide ATI, reentry services, or substance use treatment and prevention services

    Contact your state SAA or local government administering agency and ask if they are looking for nonprofits to work with to implement or support the programs or activities for which they received or will receive Byrne/JAG funds. If they are not, explain the supports or services your organization can contribute and encourage them to reconsider. If the state SAA or local government administering agency is seeking nonprofits to work with, continue to Step 5.

    STEP 5: Seek support from influential groups with expertise in the criminal justice system and influence over how funds will be used

    Seek support from law enforcement, corrections, parole and probation, treatment providers, and other groups involved in protecting and promoting public safety. These groups are likely to understand the values of the services you provide and may have influence with decision-makers. Also reach out to state and local legislators who are interested in public safety. These individuals often have official or unofficial control over how public safety funds are allocated.

    STEP 6: Submit an application to your SAA or local government administering agency to establish a partnership with or request a subgrant or subcontract from them

    Ask the SAA or local government administering agency about the format in which they would like applications or other documents submitted to establish the relationship that will allow your organization to access Byrne/JAG funds for ATI, reentry services, or substance use treatment and prevention services. They may have a formal application process for the establishment of a subgrant, contract, or partnership, or they may not. Good luck!