U.S. Department of Justice: Innovative Prosecution Solutions for Combating Violent Crime and Illegal OpioidsDeadline: April 24, 2018
The Innovative Prosecution Solutions for Combating Violent Crime and Illegal Opioids (Innovative Prosecution Solutions) Program is part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) suite of programs, which is focused on reducing violent crime. The Innovative Prosecution Solutions Program aims to provide state, local, and tribal prosecutors with information, resources, and training and technical assistance (TTA) to develop effective strategies and programs to address violent crime and prosecute individuals responsible for homicides caused by illegal opioids. Prosecutors are leaders within the criminal justice system who possess an enormous responsibility within the criminal justice system. Accordingly, they are well positioned to bring the police, the community, and local agencies together to combat violent crime in their jurisdictions.
The Innovative Prosecution Solutions Program encourages prosecutors to use data in the development of their violent crime strategies and programs. As such, it builds upon analysis-driven, promising practices and evidence-based prosecution by encouraging state, local, and tribal prosecutorial agencies to develop effective, economical, and innovative responses to crime within their jurisdictions.
The Program also encourages prosecutors to focus on how they can address the opioid crisis in the country. Twenty states have enacted statutes for drug-induced homicides. These statutes vary on the severity of charges that prosecutors are able to bring, which range from manslaughter to first degree murder; sentences also range from the court’s discretion to life imprisonment.
Prosecutors should look at their role in the enforcement of these statutes and develop strategies that focus on:
- Swiftly and thoroughly investigating overdose scenes as homicide scenes
- Using social networking and innovative investigative practices to develop leads
- Concentrating on victimology in court presentations to nullify a victim’s assumption of risk
- Using expert witnesses to explain the science
- Understanding the appropriate way to charge individuals for these crimes
The Program encourages the exploration of new solutions to public safety concerns, as well as addresses internal operations and organizational structure of prosecutor’s offices. The program is intended to support prosecutors as leaders among their criminal justice partners and develop criminal justice strategies focused on reducing violent crime. Recipients of funding will test promising crime prevention, response, and reduction practices; implement evidence-based interventions; improve the effectiveness and efficiency of prosecutors’ processes and procedures; and establish sustainable partnerships with researchers to evaluate their effectiveness.
Priority consideration will be given to efforts focusing on addressing violent crime and/or opioids. Below are some creative solutions implemented by prosecutors around the country that centered on issue areas that assist with the prioritization of cases as well as:
- Developing ways to identify the most violent repeat offenders
- Developing mechanisms to prosecute individuals who are responsible for opioid related deaths or the sale of drugs leading to overdoses
- Using data to develop zone/geographic prosecution
- Using crime analysis tools, through strategies like GunStat, to track gun violence
- Developing policies to prosecute witness intimidation cases
- Working jointly with parole and probation departments on violations of probation
- Enhancing the prosecutor’s role in investigations of homicide cases and cybercrime strategies to improve public safety
The Program is also encouraging prosecutors to look at their role in addressing illegal opioid distribution. They should work closely with their federal partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop protocols and procedures for reviewing cases that could be federally prosecuted, especially as they pertain to opioids. Prosecutors are also strongly encouraged to partner with a researcher, and to establish innovative and effective working relationships with citizens and community leaders to gain support for the prosecutors’ proposed initiatives. Agencies are also expected to leverage data from other criminal justice entities—such as parole, probation, corrections, the judiciary, and law enforcement agencies—to aid in their activities.
Amount: A total of $2,200,000 is available to make up to six awards of up to $360,000. The project period is for 24 months.
Eligibility: State and local prosecutorial agencies, federally recognized Indian tribal governments that perform prosecution functions, or tribal consortia consisting of two or more federally recognized Indian tribes (including tribal consortia operated as nonprofit organizations) acting as a fiscal agent for one or more prosecutor agencies.