THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1998202/307-0703


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Forty-nine states will receive federal funds totaling a record $494.9 million from the Justice Department to help pay the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes in the United States and have been convicted and sentenced for their felony offenses. The funds will cover nearly two-thirds the cost incurred by states.

The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which was authorized by Congress under the 1994 Crime Act and is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), provides financial assistance to states and, for the first time, localities in paying the costs of illegal criminal aliens incarcerated in their correctional systems.

"Since the 1994 Crime Act, the Justice Department has awarded approximately $624 million to states to pay for housing criminal aliens," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "The Justice Department will continue to assist state and local jurisdictions to lower the number of illegal aliens housed in these facilities by expedited deportation hearings and removals as well as by working with Congress to increase funding to reimburse the states."

State and local awards to Arizona ($17.9 million), California ($270.2 million), Florida ($18 million), New York ($62.8 million) and Texas ($53.5 million) total approximately 78 percent of the available 1996 funding. Los Angeles and New York City were the two largest localities to receive awards totaling $12.8 million and $15.5 million, respectively. In addition, the District of Columbia, two territories and 94 localities will share the funds.

"Under SCAAP, the Justice Department is able to help states and localities that bear the costs of incarcerating these criminal aliens," explained BJA Director Nancy Gist. "This year we are reimbursing jurisdictions nearly 60 cents on each dollar spent for this purpose, which is up from approximately 16 cents on each dollar from last year."

Eligible applicants included states and localities that exercised authority with respect to the incarceration of an undocumented criminal alien. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, three territories (Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) and approximately 3,000 local jurisdictions with jail facilities were eligible for reimbursement funding under SCAAP.

SCAAP funding is based on information provided by each applicant on the number and costs of housing criminal aliens for the fiscal year. This is the second year these reimbursements have been made. In fiscal year 1996, Congress appropriated $500 million for the SCAAP program, $5 million of which will be used for administration. Another $500 million has been appropriated for fiscal year 1997. The 1994 Crime Act authorized $1.8 billion over six years.

Attached is a list of the 1996 SCAAP recipients.

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BJA 96-255

After hours contact: James Phillips at 202/516-6800 (pager)