FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AG/BJA
JANUARY 30, 2003 202-307-0703
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AWARDS $117 MILLION TO FIGHT GUN VIOLENCE
PHILADELPHIA - At the second annual Project Safe Neighborhoods: America’s Network Against Gun Violence (PSN) National Conference, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced $117 million awards to localities to combat gun violence. The awards, administered by the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), support a comprehensive, strategic approach to reducing gun violence in America, and are part of the Administration’s commitment of more than $900 million over three years to aggressively prosecute gun criminals, enhance coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement, support investigations, provide training, as well as develop and promote community outreach efforts.
“Protecting our communities from gun violence is a priority of the Justice Department, and we will ensure that those who work to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe have the resources they need,” said Attorney General Ashcroft. “Enforcing existing firearms laws while creating innovative, effective methods for community involvement are important factors in deterring and prosecuting violent crime in this nation.”
Today’s grants provide funding in four categories:
_ Media Outreach and Community Engagement Award - $16 million. Partners, in 94 federal judicial districts, who received this grant will research, create and produce public service announcements and comprehensive communications strategies to deter gun violence in their local area. The focus of the grants is encouraging community support and promoting strict punishment of all firearms-related violent crime.
_ Research Partner/Crime Analyst Award - $15 million. Research partners in 94 federal judicial districts will work with PSN, Justice Department and the Michigan State University- School of Criminal Justice to examine trends in firearms-related violence and engage in strategic problem-solving on the issue.
The grantees will collect data, analyze findings and report on best practices around the
country of crime control and prevention.
_ Project Sentry Grant - $13 million. The program focuses on juvenile-related gun violence and strategies to keep illegal guns out of the hands of America’s youth. The grants, awarded to 36 counties, will be used to increase jurisdiction capabilities to arrest, detain, prosecute and provide supervision to juveniles involved in firearms-related crimes. The program supports federal-state partnerships that promote coordination at all levels to identify, prosecute and punish offenders. That includes targeting gun dealers and adults who illegally purchase or provide guns to juveniles or otherwise contribute to a juvenile committing a violent crime with a firearm.
_ Open Solicitation Award - $10 million. These grants fund innovative local responses to gun violence. There were 41 jurisdictions chosen for funding. Each will create and implement a unique local program focused on prevention, community outreach and education; enforcement, adjudication and supervision programs; or some other innovative project to stem violent gun crimes.
“Violent predators continue to pose a significant threat to our citizens,” said Deborah J. Daniels, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. “Project Safe Neighborhood’s aggressive, broad-based response by law enforcement in partnership with the community can significantly reduce that threat. These funds will go where they’ll have the greatest impact in reducing gun violence - to federal and state prosecutors, investigators, and to citizens engaged in gun violence reduction efforts.”
In addition to the PSN awards announced today, OJP has awarded $63 million through the Community Gun Violence Prosecution Program to help state and local governments hire 550 new gun prosecutors in areas with a high incidence of gun violence. Funds are provided directly to prosecutors to hire deputy prosecutors to focus on cases that involve violent crimes committed with guns and other violations of gun statutes that involve drug trafficking and gang-related crimes.
A list of the BJA awards, including information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, can be found on www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grants/psnawards.html. Media can also contact OJP’s Office of Communications at 202-307-0703.
To find out about more about PSN and its local programs, visit the PSN website at www.psn.gov.
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