Updated May 20, 1998
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Crime Control Assistance Through the
Garrine P. Laney
Analyst in American National Government
The Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance
Programs are sources of federal financial assistance for state and local drug law
enforcement efforts. Representative Bill McCollum introduced H.R. 2181 (Witness
Protection and Interstate Relocation Act of 1997) on July 17, 1997, to ensure the safety
of witnesses and to promote notification of the interstate relocation of witnesses by states
and localities engaging in that relocation. Among other provisions, H.R. 2181 would
authorize the Attorney General to use Byrne grant discretionary funds to promote
interstate coordination and cooperation in this effort. On February 25, 1998, the House
passed H.R. 2181 by a vote of 366-49.
The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-351) is the base
authority for federal assistance to state and local governments in reducing crime. Since
passage, the Act has been significantly amended.2 Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse
Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-570) to provide financial assistance to state and local governments
and to coordinate, at all government levels, efforts to fight crime and drug abuse
problems.3 In 1988, the Act was amended (P.L. 100-690) and programs were renamed
the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Programs.4 It
This report is a revision of U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, Crime
Control Assistance Through the Byrne Programs, by Keith Bea, CRS Report 95-81 GOV
(Washington: Jan. 5, 1995). It has been prepared with the assistance of David Teasley.
Hereafter cited as Safe Streets Act. Provisions are codified in 42 U.S.C. 46, §3750; 108 Stat.
100 Stat. 3207.
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, 102 Stat. 4328, 42 U.S.C. Chapter 46, §3750. See Byrne
Program web site: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/html/byrnef.htm.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
was amended again with passage of the Crime Control Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-647).5 The
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322)6 authorized the
programs through FY2000 with steadily decreasing funding, but congressional support
remains, and appropriations in recent years have continued to increase.
The statute provides that states receive and distribute block grant funds and that the
Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the U.S. Department of Justice awards discretionary
grants for specified activities. Allocated largely on the basis of population, block grant
funds are used for personnel, equipment, training, technical assistance, and information
systems to improve criminal justice systems.
Discretionary funds are awarded on a competitive basis in accordance with priorities
established by the BJA and by Congress through “earmarks” in regular appropriations bills.
In general, discretionary program funds are distributed to non-federal public and private
organizations undertaking projects that educate criminal justice personnel, provide
technical assistance to state and local governments, and can be successfully copied in other
jurisdictions. For an example of congressional earmarks, note the provision of $28.5
million for the Weed and Seed Program for FY1996 and FY1997 from Byrne discretionary
grants for those years.7
Funding information for the Byrne programs since 1987 is shown in Table 1, below.
No President requested authorized funds for any fiscal year until 1990, but Congress
appropriated funds anyway. Although the funding process has been contentious over the
years, the programs have continued to be funded. During the 104th Congress, the
Administration sought and Congress provided funding for the Byrne programs beyond that
authorized for FY1996 and FY1997. With the creation of the Violent Crime Reduction
Trust Fund8 in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Congress
has been able to fund the Byrne programs through the Trust Fund as well as through direct
appropriations. For example, in FY1997 the Byrne Program received $199 million
(formula grants) from the Trust Fund, and $361 million from direct appropriations ($301
million for formula grants plus $60 million for discretionary grants).
The 105th Congress provided FY1998 funding of $551.5 million for the Byrne
programs, of which $42.5 million (formula grants) was to come from the Trust Fund.
Byrne programs received $509 million from direct appropriations ($462.5 million for
formula grants and $46.5 million for discretionary grants). Legislation has been introduced
104 Stat. 4789-4968.
108 Stat. 2061.
For additional information, see: U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service,
Community Anti-Crime Weed and Seed Program: Current Developments, by Suzanne Cavanagh
and David Teasley, CRS Report 96-497 GOV (Washington: 1996).
For a discussion of the Trust Fund, see: U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research
Service, Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund: An Overview, by David Teasley, CRS Report 951158 GOV (Washington: 1996). Fund monies are to be comprised of projected savings realized
by planned reductions in the federal payroll and from the general fund.
to extend authorization to FY2002. In FY1999, the Clinton Administration has requested
$553 million for Bryne programs ($505 million for formula grants and $47.75 million for
Table 1. Authorizations, Requests and Appropriations for the Byrne
Memorial Programs, FY1987-2000
Sources: Authorizations-P.L. 99-570, P.L. 100-690, P.L. 101-647, P.L. 102-534, P.L. 103-322, P.L. 104134. Requests-U.S. OMB Budget Appendices and conference reports for the relevant years.
Appropriations-Justice Department appropriation bills, reports and conference reports for FY1987-1997.
A number of broad activities may be undertaken with Byrne program funds, such as
those listed below.9
Reducing Drug Demand. Educational programs in which law enforcement officers
participate that reduce the demand for illegal drugs and identify and treat adult and juvenile
drug-dependent and alcohol-dependent offenders.
Law Enforcement. Programs that integrate federal, state, and local drug law
enforcement efforts; improve the operational effectiveness of law enforcement; address
drug trafficking in public housing; improve financial investigation efforts; improve the
Section 501(b) of the Safe Streets Act, as amended; 108 Stat. 2035; 42 U.S.C. 3751.
capability of forensic laboratories to identify components of drugs; and develop and
implement antiterrorism training programs.
Court and Prosecutorial Systems. Programs that improve the investigation and
prosecution of white-collar crime, organized crime, public corruption crimes and fraud
against the government with emphasis on cases involving drug-related official corruption;
improve the operational effectiveness of the court process; improve prosecution of career
criminals, including the development of proposed drug supply and reduction legislation;
assist jurors and witnesses, as well as victims of crimes; and address effective prosecution
of violent 16- and 17-year-old juveniles as adults for crimes of murder.
Crime Prevention. Programs that assist citizens in communities and neighborhoods
in preventing and controlling crime, especially crime directed against the elderly and in
rural jurisdictions; improve the response of the criminal and juvenile justice system to
domestic violence; and relate to law enforcement and the prevention of gangs or to youths
at risk of joining gangs.
Corrections. Programs that provide additional public correctional resources and
improve the corrections system by addressing treatment in prisons, supervision programs,
and long-range corrections and sentencing strategies; place prison inmates in a realistic
working and training environment to enable them to make financial restitution to their
victims, to support inmates’s families, and to support themselves while institutionalized;
and provide alternatives to prison for eligible inmates.
Multi-Purpose Objectives. Programs that improve drug control technology;
provide for the identification, assessment, referral to treatment, case management and
monitoring of drug dependent offenders; enhance state and local forensic laboratories and
criminal justice information systems; and allow evaluation of projects directed at state drug
H.R. 2181 (Witness Protection and Interstate Relocation Act of 1997)
H.R. 2181 would amend Section 501 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets
Act of 1968 to authorize the Attorney General to use up to 10% of the total amount
appropriated for Byrne program grants for jurisdictions to develop and maintain witness
security and relocation programs. Jurisdictions would be required to substantially follow
a model Memorandum of Understanding to be established by the Attorney General. If
approved by Congress, this bill would add witness protection to the list of eligible activities
under the Byrne programs. On February 25, 1998, the House passed H.R. 2181 by a vote
The discretionary grant authority consists of two parts: grants for demonstration
projects and grants for projects that stimulate the establishment of sanctions other than
prisons for offenders. Eligible grantees include non-federal public or private agencies,
institutions, organizations, or individuals. Discretionary funds may not be used for the
acquisition of land or for construction projects. Discretionary grants may be used for the
following four purposes: undertaking educational and training programs for criminal
justice personnel; providing technical assistance to states and local units of government;
undertaking projects that are national or multijurisdictional in scope; and providing
financial assistance to public agencies and private nonprofit organizations for
demonstration programs which, in view of previous research or experience, are likely to
be a success in more than one jurisdiction.10 Grants may be awarded to individual
programs or projects for up to four years with possible renewal.11
Applications requirements call for a description of the program eligible for assistance;
a description of services to be provided, performance goals, and how the program is to be
carried out; an agreement to conduct evaluations as set forth by the BJA; a summary of
how the program is to be evaluated; and certifications that all statutory provisions have
The Crime Control Act of 1990 revised the discretionary program element of the
Byrne program by authorizing the Director of the BJA to make grants for projects that
serve as alternatives to prison or offender release programs (also referred to as the
correctional options program). This Act has not been funded since FY1995.13
The Drug Control and System Improvement Grant Program (the block grant element
of the Byrne programs) provides funds to help state and local governments improve their
criminal justice systems with emphasis on a national and multilevel drug control strategy.14
To ensure that projects funded under this program coordinate federal and state efforts,
state and local criminal codes must include offenses similar to those set forth in the
Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.).
Applications for federal grants are made only by states and must contain the following
information: discussion of the major drug and violent crime problems in the state and
counties within the state; assessment of resources devoted to crime and drug control
programs; coordination requirements and resource needs; statewide priorities; analysis of
the relationship of state efforts to the national strategy; and a plan for coordinating
programs funded with block grant money with other federally funded programs, including
state and local programs.15
The statute requires improved federal and state coordination and consultation
between state and local officials as they prepare their strategies. States must provide
certifications regarding commitment of non-federal resources, the review of the application
by the state legislature as well as by the general public, and compliance with auditing
procedures. States must address the demand side of drug abuse by designing law
Safe Streets Act, 108 Stat. 2121, 42 U.S.C. 3760(b)-3762.
Ibid., 102 Stat. 4336-4337, 42 U.S.C. 3764.
Ibid., 102 Stat. 4336, 42 U.S.C. 3763.
P.L. 101-647, 104 Stat. 4847, 42 U.S.C. 3762a and 3762b.
Safe Streets Act, 102 Stat. 4329, 42 U.S.C. 3751(a).
Ibid., 102 Stat. 4331-4332, 42 U.S.C. 3753.
enforcement procedures that hold accountable those persons who unlawfully possess or
At least 5% of block grant funds must be dedicated to improving criminal justice
records that are linked to the firearm purchase system to be established under the Brady
Handgun Violence Prevention Act and the National Child Protection Act of 1993. This
requirement, however, may be waived by the Director of BJA depending on the quality of
each state’s recordkeeping system.17 There are also requirements, established under
provisions of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender
Registration Act, governing the testing and the registration of persons convicted of sex
offenses, with penalties for noncompliance.18
The statute requires that funds be distributed among the states as follows: of the
amount available for the block grant program, 0.25% (or $500,000, whichever is greater)
is allocated to each state and the remaining funds are allocated among the states based
upon population.19 The federal government provides three dollars for each dollar
contributed by the state, a 75/25 match.20 Unused or reallocated funds returned to the
BJA are distributed through the discretionary program. If the Director of the BJA rules
that funds cannot or will not be used by a state, those funds are distributed within that
state to localities with the greatest need.21
States must distribute to local governments a percentage of the funds received (the
“pass-through” requirement). The amount to be distributed is derived by comparing the
combined criminal justice expenditures of all of the units of local government in the state
to the total criminal justice budgets of the state and the local governments.22 Individual
localities must apply to the state for funds from the local government share. Funds not
passed through to local governments may be used by the state.
Ibid., 102 Stat. 4331-4333, 42 U.S.C. 3753(a)(1-10).
107 Stat. 1536-46 and 107 Stat. 2490-95, respectively.
Safe Streets Act, as amended, 104 Stat. 4851, 42 U.S.C. 3756(f); P.L. 103-322, 108 Stat. 2038.
Also, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, “Final Guidelines for the Jacob
Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act,” Federal
Register, vol. 61, Apr. 4, 1996, pp. 15110-15117.
Safe Streets Act and the Department of Justice Appropriations Act, 1990, P.L. 100-690, 103
Stat. 1006, 42 U.S.C. 3756, 3791(a)(2). American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands are
considered to be one State, with allocations of 67% and 33%, respectively.
42 U.S.C. 3754(a).
Safe Streets Act, 42 U.S.C. 3756.
Safe Streets Act, 102 Stat. 4334, 42 U.S.C. 3756(b). For information on the calculation of each
State’s required pass through share and on trends in State and local government criminal justice
expenditures, see: Sue A. Lindgren, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
Justice Variable Passthrough Data, 1990 (Washington, GPO, 1992).