Updated January 30, 2020
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG)

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant
fiscal year to the total amount of expenditures on criminal
(JAG) program is a Department of Justice (DOJ) formula
justice by both the state and all units of local government in
grant program. The JAG program allocates funds to the 50
the past fiscal year.
states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the
Virgin Islands, America Samoa, and the Northern Mariana
Islands (collectively referred to as “states” hereinafter) for a
Disparate Allocation
variety of state and local criminal justice initiatives. The
In some instances, a unit of local government or
program is administered by the Bureau of Justice
multiple units of local government are required to
Assistance (BJA).
collaborate on a single joint award with the county.
This happens when BJA certifies that there is a
Calculating Allocations
“disparate allocation,” meaning that one city qualifies
Under the JAG formula, each state’s allocation is based on
for an amount that is one-and-a-half times more than
its population and the number of reported violent crimes in
the amount for the county with concurrent
the state. Specifically, half of a state’s allocation is based on
jurisdiction, or when the total amount cities in a single
the state’s respective share of the U.S. population. The
county qualify for is four-times more than the amount
other half is based on the state’s respective share of the
for the county. The unit or units of local government
average number of reported violent crimes in the United
and county representatives must sign and submit a
States for the three most recent years for which data are
memorandum of understanding stating that they all
available. Under current law, each state is guaranteed to
agree on how the joint award, which is the sum of all
receive no less than 0.25% of the amount appropriated for
of the individual awards, will be allocated and used.
the JAG program in a given fiscal year (i.e., the minimum
allocation). Therefore, after each state’s initial allocation is
Program Purpose Areas
calculated using the JAG formula, states that would have
Grant recipients can use their JAG funds for state and local
received less than 0.25% of the total amount appropriated
initiatives, technical assistance, training, personnel,
for the JAG program are funded at the minimum allocation.
equipment, supplies, contractual support, and criminal
If a state’s initial allocation is greater than the minimum
justice information systems for
amount, then the state receives the minimum allocation plus
a share of the remaining funds based on the state’s
 law enforcement;
proportion of the country’s population and the reported

number of violent crimes. Both population and violent
prosecution and courts;
crime data for the states that received the minimum
 prevention and education;
allocation as their award are excluded when allocating the
remaining funds for the states that receive more than the
 corrections and community corrections;
minimum allocation.
 drug treatment;
After each state’s allocation is determined, 40% of it is
 planning, evaluation, and technology improvement;
directly awarded to units of local government in the state
 crime victim and witness assistance (other than
(this does not occur in the District of Columbia or the
compensation); and
territories). Awards to units of local government, which
includes Indian tribes that have law enforcement
 mental health and related law enforcement and
responsibilities, are based on the jurisdiction’s proportion of
corrections programs, including behavioral programs
the three-year average number of violent crimes committed
and crisis intervention teams.
in its respective state. Only units of local government that
JAG’s eight broad program purpose areas are intended to
would receive $10,000 or more are eligible for a direct
give states and local units of government flexibility in
allocation. The balance of funds not awarded directly to
creating programs to address local needs.
units of local government is administered by the state and
must be distributed to the state police department or to units
of local government that were not eligible to receive a
There are two numbers to consider when evaluating
direct award from BJA. Also, each state is required to “pass
changes in appropriations for the JAG program: the total (or
to units of local government a certain percentage
“top-line”) appropriation, and the amount available to be
of the funds directly awarded to the state. The pass-through
allocated through the JAG program after set-asides.
percentage is calculated as the ratio of the total amount of
Traditionally, Congress has dedicated some of the annual
state expenditures on criminal justice for the most recent
JAG appropriation for other purposes, as specified in the

link to page 2 The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
FY2013 appropriation also includes the amount sequestered per the
(CJS) Appropriations Act. In many fiscal years, as a part of
Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25).
its annual budget submission, the Administration has
requested that Congress set aside a portion of the annual
In FY2005 and FY2006, Congress required 15% and 23%,
JAG funding for specific purposes.
respectively, of the appropriation for JAG to be set aside for
other purposes. These set-asides are largely attributable to
Total funding for JAG has averaged $442 million per fiscal
the approximately $84 million that was dedicated to the
year (not including $2 billion in funding appropriated
Boys and Girls Club of America, a carryover from one of
pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
JAG’s predecessor programs, the Local Law Enforcement
of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5)). Funding was first
Block Grant. After Congress declined to dedicate JAG
appropriated for the program in FY2005 (see Table 1).
funding to the Boys and Girls Club in FY2007, set-asides
accounted for 1%-4% of JAG’s total appropriation through
Table 1. Appropriations for the JAG Program,
FY2011 (for FY2009, the proportion dedicated to set-asides
does not include ARRA funding). Since then, set-asides
Appropriations in millions of dollars
have accounted for an increasing share of JAG’s funding. In
FY2012, FY2016, and FY2020 at least one-quarter of the
total JAG appropriation was dedicated for other purposes.
In each of those fiscal years, Congress directed $100
Set Aside
million in JAG funding toward reimbursing cities that
hosted presidential nominating conventions for security-
related costs they incurred. Excluding these anomalies, set-
asides accounted for 5% of total JAG funding in FY2013,
8% in FY2014, 12% in FY2015, 17% in FY2017, 18% in
FY2018, and 22% in FY2019.
Since FY2017, Congress and the President have also started
to fund several DOJ grant programs (e.g., Project Safe
Neighborhoods, the John R. Justice program, programs
authorized under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, and the
Capital Litigation Improvement and Wrongful Conviction
Review program), which had traditionally received their
own appropriation in the annual CJS appropriations act,
through set-asides from JAG. Congress might have started
setting aside JAG funding for these programs as a way to
continue to fund them while minimizing increases in
appropriations for the State and Local Law Enforcement
Assistance (S&LLEA) account in the CJS appropriations
act. During this period, funding for S&LLEA has increased
somewhat as funding has been provided for programs to
address the opioid crisis, combat human trafficking,
improve the completeness of records in the National Instant
Criminal Background Check System, and improve police-
community relations.
Since FY2012, appropriations that are available to be
allocated through the JAG program have generally been
around $340 million each fiscal year. This indicates that
even though more JAG funding has been set-aside for other
Source: Appropriations were taken from the conference report or
purposes, Congress has increased the top-line appropriation
explanatory statement to accompany the annual Commerce, Justice,
to account for additional set-asides. However, funding
Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act for each
available to be allocated to state and local governments
fiscal year, with the exception of FY2013. The FY2013 appropriation
since FY2012 was generally lower than what it was for
was provided by DOJ.
FY2005 to FY2011.
Notes: Amounts shown in the table are in nominal, not inflation-
adjusted, dollars. The FY2009 amounts include $2 billion in
Nathan James, Analyst in Crime Policy
emergency funding that was appropriated for JAG pursuant to the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5). The


The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program

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