WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced that more than $125 million will be going to state and local government agencies across the country through the President's DNA Initiative this year. The goal of the Initiative is to ensure that DNA technology is used to its fullest potential to solve crimes, protect the innocent, and identify missing persons.
Administered through the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), OJP's research, development, and evaluation component, the DNA Initiative has provided over $422 million to state and local government agencies across the country since its launch in 2003.
"The President's DNA Initiative has allowed us to make unprecedented progress in strengthening the capacity of crime labs, reducing DNA backlogs, stimulating forensic research, and identifying missing persons," said NIJ Director, David W. Hagy. "The initiative has also helped us to develop valuable trainings and resources to improve criminal justice practitioners' knowledge and understanding of DNA as an investigative tool."
With NIJ support, many law enforcement agencies, prosecutors' offices, and crime labs have created programs to review old cases. Often called "cold case units," these programs, through the use of DNA evidence, have allowed for old cases to be solved. Because the demand for tools and technologies in the area of DNA testing may exceed the capabilities in the field, NIJ has supported DNA research and development projects for universities, crime labs, and other public and private sector agencies.
The Department also announced the launch of its new crime prevention initiative, Celebrate Safe Communities (CSC). In partnership with the National Sheriffs? Association (NSA) and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), OJP is promoting this new event throughout the country, October 2 - 4.
Celebrate Safe Communities will help local communities organize safety-focused events. October is Crime Prevention Month and CSC observes the month by spotlighting communities? crime prevention efforts, enhancing public awareness of vital crime prevention and safety messages, and recruiting year-round support for ongoing prevention activities that help keep neighborhoods safe from crime. More information on CSC can be found at http://www.celebratesafecommunities.org.
In FY 2008 OJP awarded more than $1.6 billion in grants to assist in crime prevention efforts and support the justice systems of the United States. Grants were awarded to more than 3,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement and criminal justice partners. More information about the NIJ grants announced today can be found at http://www.dna.gov.
The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at http://www.ojp.gov.