Byrne JAG: Funding State and Local Criminal Justice Programs


The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program (42 U.S.C. § 3751(a)) is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. Administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Byrne JAG Program supports the federal government’s crucial role in spurring innovation, as well as testing and replicating evidence-based practices nationwide. This section details the history of Byrne JAG, how grants are awarded and distributed, how Byrne JAG funding compares to other large Department of Justice grant programs, and how Byrne JAG is invested in state and local communities.

Spending Purpose Areas


Byrne JAG funds may be used for state and local initiatives, technical assistance, strategic planning, research and evaluation, data collection, training, personnel, equipment, forensic laboratories, supplies, contractual support, and criminal justice information systems that will improve or enhance the following program areas:

  • Law enforcement programs;

  • Prosecution and court programs, including indigent defense;

  • Prevention and education programs;

  • Corrections, community corrections and reentry programs;

  • Drug treatment and enforcement programs;

  • Planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs

  • Crime victim and witness programs (other than compensation)

  • Mental health programs and services (added FY 17)


Because Byrne JAG is flexible, states and local communities are able to use the funding to address needs and fill gaps across the entire criminal justice system. This is a hallmark of the Byrne JAG program and one that is vitally important. See reports on the impact of Byrne JAG on the criminal justice system.

Byrne JAG Primer Podcast

Listen to a  short podcast (12 minutes) to learn the basics about the Byrne JAG program and how penalty provisions included in many of the policing and criminal justice reform proposals that Congress is reviewing would impact the program. Elizabeth Pyke, NCJA Director of Government Affairs, is interviewed by Melissa Nee of Brooks Bawden Moore.  Listen to the podcast here.

How States Invest Byrne JAG Funds


The NCJA conducted a two-part study of Byrne JAG spending in calendar year 2016. For the first part of the study, state administrating agencies (SAAs) were surveyed about how their state invested Byrne JAG funds by purpose area and project type. In the second part of the study, NCJA staff conducted one-on-one interviews with SAAs about specific programs funded in their state. Survey findings were published in a series of state and topical one-pagers while program examples can be found in our Library of Byrne JAG Promising Practices (see below).

Data on Byrne JAG Spending


The NCJA has developed a series of one-pagers detailing how states invest Byrne JAG funds by state and project type, as well as the impact of these investments on state and local criminal justice communities.

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