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BJA's Justice Today
February/March 2017   
In the Spotlight

BCJI Crime Reduction Symposium Held in DC
On March 22, 2017, BJA, together with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), held a half-day symposium in Washington, D.C., highlighting the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) Program and its uniquely effective approach to reducing crime, enhancing community-police collaboration, and spurring revitalization in the nation’s most distressed areas. Featured speakers included leaders in the BCJI Program. Police chiefs, prosecutors, residents, community partners, and federal officials engaged in a dialogue about successful strategies to put our most distressed communities on a path to safety and economic opportunity.

Many communities across the country struggle to fight persistent crime and poverty, and can have strained relations with law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies. In these places, the BCJI Program has shown remarkable results. For more information on the BCJI Program, read the BCJI Fact Sheet.

News You Can Use

VALOR Spotlight on Safety (March-April Campaign)
On March 10, 2017, the VALOR Program released the March/April Spotlight on Safety. This two-month campaign is focused on defusing difficult encounters. It provides information to help law enforcement understand how words, body language, and actions can defuse stressful situations. The current spotlight also provides basic skills that law enforcement can use to help defuse situations.

The BJA VALOR Program’s Spotlight on Safety is a themed, multidimensional outreach plan designed to promote officer safety awareness and wellness. Every two months a new safety-related topic is selected for the spotlight, and VALOR shares associated resources. Each theme includes digital aids, such as downloadable and printable posters. Links to related articles, publications, webinars, podcasts, and online trainings are also provided.

NRTAC Launches Website
The National Resource and Technical Assistance Center for Improving Law Enforcement Investigations (NRTAC) website was launched on February 13, 2017. The NRTAC was created in collaboration between BJA and the Police Foundation to improve law enforcement investigations at the local level through the development of resources on new tools and methodologies, assessment of current practices and recommendations on innovative investigative policies and practices, assessment of departmental investigatory functions and practices, and improvement of investigative practices. The NRTAC will provide site-specific, customized assistance from some of the nation’s most accomplished investigators, prosecutors, researchers, and policy experts who are directly relevant to the investigative process and criminal justice system. All efforts will incorporate crime science findings to focus on the small number of serious, habitual offenders in neighborhoods (hotspots) suffering precipitous crime increases.

National Task Force Bench Card Released
The National Task Force on Fines, Fees, and Bail Practices, supported in part by BJA, has developed a bench card to help judges across the nation comply with due process requirements of the 14th Amendment equal protection clause, as explained in the U.S. Supreme Court case Bearden v. Georgia.

Bearden v. Georgia holds that it is not permissible to incarcerate someone solely due to their inability to pay fines, fees, or even restitution if they cannot afford it. The newly released bench card lays out the inquiry that judges must go through to determine whether someone is truly unable to pay or is willfully refusing to do so despite having the necessary resources.

The bench card will be available on the National Center for State Courts’ Task Force Products page. This comprehensive resource center has collected information about state-specific reports, pilot programs, legislation, litigation, grants, and ability-to-pay standards, as well as national reports.

The Intersecting Laws: The Tribal Law and Order Act and the Indian Civil Rights Act
BJA, in partnership with the American Probation and Parole Association, the Tribal Judicial Institute at the University of North Dakota School of Law, and the National Tribal Judicial Center at the National Judicial College is pleased to announce the release of Intersecting Laws: The Tribal Law and Order Act and the Indian Civil Rights Act. This publication explains the expanded sentencing rights of Indian tribes under the Tribal Law and Order Act and how those rights must be exercised consistent with the rights of criminal defendants protected by the Indian Civil Rights Act. In addition, the publication explains a number of challenges that tribes should consider when imposing enhanced sentencing on criminal defendants and offers solutions to overcome the challenges.

NCJP Releases New Video Series
The National Criminal Justice Association Center for Justice Planning (NCJP), in cooperation with BJA, has released a new video series. NCJP’s From Policy to Practice video series explores innovative programs developed and implemented by State Administering Agencies, and shows how these programs are helping local jurisdictions identify, implement, and evaluate evidence-based programs to reduce crime and prevent recidivism.

In Focus This Month

Apply for CARA Funding to Implement Programs Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
BJA has released two funding opportunities as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which is the first major federal substance abuse disorder treatment and recovery legislation in 40 years. The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Program and the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program support CARA’s goals to address the opioid epidemic by encouraging comprehensive, cross-system, data-driven, and evidence-based planning and collaboration among stakeholders from the criminal justice field and substance abuse treatment and recovery system. For more information, check out this TTA News post from the BJA National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) or read these Frequently Asked Questions.

Strategic Support for PREA Implementation in Local Confinement Facilities Nationwide
The purpose of BJA’s PREA grant program is to provide resources to local agencies that oversee small- and medium-sized jails (i.e., with 500 beds or less), lockups, community confinement facilities, and juvenile confinement facilities so that they can initiate or expand their efforts to implement the PREA Standards. BJA is seeking applications for a national training and technical assistance provider to work with these competitively selected local agencies to review and assess their efforts to date to implement the PREA Standards and zero tolerance cultures related to sexual abuse and sexual harassment in confinement; develop plans to implement the PREA Standards and zero tolerance cultures; and oversee implementation activities that are funded by resources available under this grant program. The deadline for applications is May 25, 2017.

An informational webinar was held on April 7, 2017. A recording of the webinar is available on the BJA NTTAC website.

Grants and Funding

Visit BJA's Funding Page to stay up-to-date on BJA solicitations.

BJA is a component of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Visit OJP's Funding Resource Center to find OJP funding opportunities, an overview of OJP’s grant process, and more.

Funding Resource Center

Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) Program

Enacted in 1976, the PSOB Program provides death, disability, and education benefits to those eligible for the program. Visit the PSOB website to apply for these federal benefits for law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders killed or catastrophically disabled in the line of duty. For questions regarding the PSOB Program, call the PSOB Office at 888-744-6513 (toll-free) or 202-307-0635.

Did You Know?

Use the Violence Reduction Clearinghouse to Build Customized Toolkits to Address Violent Crime
BJA’s Violence Reduction Network (VRN) developed a free online, interactive tool that shares hundreds of resources related to reducing violent crime. VRN’s Violence Reduction Clearinghouse enables users to browse promising practices, strategies, trainings, publications, and other resources to build, download, and share customized toolkits based on a range of topics, from gang violence and crime analysis to crime prevention and the use of social media in crime fighting. Read the latest TTA Today blog post to learn more about this resource.

VALOR BlueLearning Online Training – Continued Education
In March, BJA’s VALOR Program released several new online training modules on the secure side of the valorforblue.org website. The continuing education online trainings for law enforcement are located on the VALOR Program’s growing BlueLearning resource page. Each new VALOR for BlueLearning module includes printable handouts, a promotional poster, and ready-to-use resources to post in any law enforcement agency.

Featured Program
JRI Sites Develop New Policy Recommendations
Seven sites recently developed policy recommendations to manage corrections costs while improving public safety as part of their participation in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). With assistance from BJA, high-level, bipartisan, and interbranch working groups have developed policies for consideration by the following state legislatures in their 2017 sessions: Arkansas (CSG), Georgia (CSG), Massachusetts (CSG), Montana (CSG), North Dakota (CSG), Oklahoma (CJI), and Pennsylvania (CSG).

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