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Bringing All Criminal Justice Stakeholders to the Table

The following post appears courtesy of the Access to Justice Initiative   The Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program provides federal funding for states and localities to promote effective strategies across the criminal justice system.  JAG grants provide support for a wide-range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution and court programs, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, crime victim and witness initiatives, planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs.  The 2012 JAG solicitation, released on March 28, 2012, includes important new language of interest to indigent defense providers and other criminal justice stakeholders that have not consistently been a part of local and state jurisdictions’ planning processes for allocating JAG funds.     Since 2010, indigent defense has been identified by the Justice Department as one of several key priority areas for maximizing the effectiveness of JAG funding.  Attorney General Eric Holder has consistently stressed that the crisis in indigent defense reform is a serious concern, which must be addressed if true justice is to be achieved in our nation. The solicitation refers applicants to the American Bar Association (ABA) Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System, which represent fundamental building blocks for implementing quality legal representation for indigent defendants.  All JAG recipients are encouraged to use JAG funds to support existing statewide strategic plans. This year marks a redoubling of our efforts to encourage state and local jurisdictions to bring all system stakeholders together in the strategic planning process  The 2012 JAG solicitation states that the strategic planning process should include law enforcement, courts, prosecutors, indigent defense providers, victim advocates, and corrections officials. It requires applicants submit a program narrative that describes the strategic planning process and identifies the stakeholders currently participating in the process. With the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), the department is ready to assist with the development of strategic plans to guide the use JAG funding.   NCJA provides valuable technical assistance for comprehensive criminal justice planning to improve the fair administration of justice. Together, these efforts are intended to help support JAG recipients’ strategic planning, allow the department to better assess the extent to which states are engaged in strategic planning and whether the recommendation that these efforts include all criminal justice stakeholders, including indigent defense, is being followed, and, as a result, ensure fairness in the criminal justice system. For further information about the JAG program, please contact the BJA Justice Information Center at 1–877–927–5657 or via email to Learn more: Department of Justice Resources for Indigent Defense Providers (PDF).    
Updated April 7, 2017