Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) today was joined by Macon County Sheriff Jerry Dawson and Decatur Police Chief James Anderson at a press conference to call on President Bush to sign a bill reauthorizing the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne JAG). Byrne JAG provides grants to state and local governments to prevent and control crime.
"Byrne JAG grants are the sole source of federal funding for many innovative and crucial programs that have contributed to a reduction in crime," Hare said. "We should be providing cities like Decatur with more resources to fight crime, not cutting back."
Funding for the program has decreased dramatically under President Bush and he has consistently proposed eliminating it altogether. On July 14, Hare supported legislation to reauthorize the Byrne JAG program at $1.1 billion annually through 2012. The bill is currently sitting on the President's desk.
"If we can spend $4,000 a second to keep Iraqi neighborhoods safe, we can certainly find the money to protect our own communities," Hare said. "President Bush should sign this extension into law."
In Illinois, Byrne JAG supports 24 different programs including anti-methamphetamine task forces, criminal prosecution units, and sex offender monitoring. Recent funding cuts have decimated these programs. In 2007, the Byrne JAG allocation for Illinois was $12.4 million. This year it was just $4.2 million, a 66% decrease.
"Authorizing Byrne JAG at $1.1 million a year will increase funding for Illinois and give our local law enforcement officials the tools they need to do their job."