FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOJP
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 1997202/307-0703

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AWARDS $400 MILLION TO HELP

STATES BUILD PRISONS AND PROMOTE TRUTH-IN-SENTENCING

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia and three territories today received over $400 million from the Department of Justice to help them build or expand correctional facilities for adult and juvenile violent offenders. This includes over $235 million being provided under the Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Program to those states where sentencing reform has been enacted to ensure that violent offenders serve longer portions of their sentences.

"These grants will allow the states to build on efforts initiated last year to construct much-needed prison and jail space," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "The Department also continues to recognize those states that have passed laws or instituted policies that promote truth-in-sentencing. This year I am pleased to announce that 27 states will receive grants under this program. Three of these states qualified for the first time."

The 27 states receiving Truth-in-Sentencing Program grants will be awarded over $235 million. These states have passed laws or adopted sentencing and release guidelines that require violent offenders to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence imposed.

The funds awarded today can be used to build or expand prisons or jails to house violent offenders. These prison grants may also be used to construct or enhance correctional facilities for non-violent offenders in an effort to free up bed-space for violent offenders. To date, over $859 million has been awarded to state and local jurisdictions to assist in the confinement of serious violent offenders. The President has requested over $710 million in Fiscal Year 1998 for these purposes.

Forty-nine states are receiving grants totaling over $121 million under Tier Two of the Violent Offender Incarceration Program, compared to last year's 48. Thirty-three states qualified for funds under Tier Three this year--a four-state increase over last year's 29. The FY 1997 Tier Three grants total over $35 million.

To receive a grant under Tier Two, a state must demonstrate that since 1993 it has increased the percentage of persons arrested for certain violent crimes who are sentenced to prison, increased actual prison time served or increased the average percentage of sentences served by violent offenders.

To receive a grant under Tier Three, a state had to qualify for Tier Two and meet further standards, such as increasing by 10 percent or more the number of persons convicted of violent crimes sentenced to prison over the most recent three-year period.

Earlier in FY 1997, on April 11, 1997, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), which administers the program, awarded all 50 states, the territories and the District of Columbia a total of over $78.5 million in Violent Offender Incarceration Tier One funding. To qualify under Tier One, states must demonstrate that violent offenders serve a substantial portion of their sentences; impose sufficient punishment for violent adult and juvenile offenders; and sentence violent offenders to prison terms that adequately protect the public.

"This corrections building program helps states restore integrity to the criminal justice system," said OJP Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson. "It sends a message to violent offenders that the government has both the determination and now the means to make sentences meaningful and ensure the public's safety."

The Department's FY 1997 Appropriations Act, P.L. 104-208, requires states to institute a program to test inmates for use of controlled substances and develop appropriate interventions for those who do not test clean. States must have their programs operational by September 1, 1998 or risk losing any funds they could receive through the Violent Offender Incarceration/ Truth-in-Sentencing program in FY 1999.

"Drug testing will empower states to help prisoners escape the cycle of crime and drugs and make this encounter with the criminal justice system their last," said Robinson. "Drug testing benefits prisoners and prisons. Knowing the extent of drug use within an institution can indicate potential violence and volatility, as well as corruption among staff, information that makes prison management easier."

Three charts are attached that reflect how much money each state and territory received in Fiscal Years 1996 and 1997 and under which parts of the program.

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OJP 97-122

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