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U.S. Department of Justice: Price of Justice Grants

Deadline: May 12, 2016

Those who commit crimes should be accountable to victims and their communities. The role of the justice system is to determine a fair and impartial resolution on behalf of society. However, legal financial obligations resulting from criminal justice involvement, including fines, fees, and costs, may undermine these very goals. The current landscape of legal financial obligations has come under heightened scrutiny in recent months and years, particularly in light of the findings of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. These findings and other sources report justice agencies focused on maximizing revenue, rather than public safety and rehabilitation; people being incarcerated for failing to pay despite inability to do so; and racial and ethnic disparity in the impacts of criminal justice debt. Currently, little is known about the extent to which government agencies rely on fines and fees, whether it is cost beneficial to fund efforts to collect fines and fees; and the extent and effects of fines and fees on justice-involved individuals. This program will make make available site-based grants and technical assistance available for state and local government agencies to implement innovative approaches to addressing the common barriers to equitable systems of legal financial obligations.

The goal of this program is to encourage and disseminate best practices for coordinated and appropriate justice system responses to justice-involved individuals’ inability to pay fines, fees, and related charges, including eliminating unnecessary and unconstitutional confinement. The objectives of the program are the following:

  • Increase corrections costs saved or avoided by reducing unnecessary confinement
  • Support the use of data analysis upon which fair and effective policies and practices related to criminal justice financial obligations can be based
  • Promote and increase collaboration and data sharing among criminal justice agencies and officials regarding assessment, collection, prioritization, and tracking of fines, fees, and related costs, including state and local policymakers, law enforcement, prosecution, defense, pretrial, courts, probation, treatment, corrections, reentry, and parole
  • Support tailored alternatives to fines, fees, and costs that promote, rather than undermine, rehabilitation, reintegration, and community trust

There are two grant categories:

Category 1: These projects will take place at the local or state level and the lead agency’s commitment to the proposed initiative, as well as the commitment of other critical partners to collaborate and share data to work toward the above objectives, must be demonstrated.

Category 2: To support the program, BJA seeks an entity to provide technical assistance to successful grantees. The goal of this assistance is to support the selected jurisdiction’s capacity to reduce unnecessary confinement due to justice-involved individuals’ inability to pay fines, fees, and related charges.

Amount: Varies by category:

  • Category 1: Four awards of up to $500,000 each
  • Category 2: One award of up to $500,000

Eligibility: Varies by category:

  • Category 1: Units of state and local government and federally recognized Indian tribal governments (as determined by the Secretary of the Interior)
  • Category 2: National-scope private and nonprofit organizations (including tribal nonprofit or for-profit organizations) and colleges and universities, both public and private (including tribal institutions of higher education)

Link: https://www.bja.gov/funding/JRIpriceofjustice.pdf

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