By Byron Shehee
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—US Middle District of Alabama Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. announced on Monday, that The US Department of Justice has awarded $21.6 million in grant money to Alabama agencies and municipalities.
“We must make sure our law enforcement officers and service providers have all the tool necessary to vigorously combat crime in this District,” stated U.S. Attorney Beck. “These grants will allow law enforcement to purchase those tools necessary to protect the citizens as well as protect the law enforcement officers while fighting crime. I am proud that the Department of Justice chose to allocate grant money to these cities and agencies to prevent crime and provide enhanced services in our community.”
Attorney General Luther Strange personally represented the Alabama Attorney General’s Office to receive $125,000.00 in order to assist in solving cold cases using DNA analysis. Strange said “law enforcement is a team activity” and pointed to local law enforcement officers and their involvement in the 1,000-plus cases that have been revisited by three cold case detectives. Due to the department’s three agents and resources provided by the Department of Justice, the office of Attorney General Office has been able to get convictions of 11 offenders who were charged with multiple crimes. Some of those offenders were serial violent criminals who committed dozens of atrocious criminal acts.
In addition to the $125,000.00 awarded to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Law Enforcement and Traffic Safety Division obtained nine grants totaling $13,930,417.00. ADECA will use this money to enhance the safety of women incarcerated in correction facilities; to enhance crime victim’s services; to support drug and violent crime tasks forces; to address violence against women; to improve the juvenile justice system; to provide substance abuse treatment in correction and detention facilities; and to improve forensic and medical examiner services.
The Department of Corrections was granted $499,166.00 to also be used to enhance the safety of women incarcerated in correction facilities.
The Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center received $1,940,629.00 to improve background checks and to better collect data on sex offenders.
The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences was awarded 1,263,414.00 in grants to be used to update equipment to process DNA samples.
The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles was granted $1,057.176.00 for reentry and supervision programs to reduce recidivism.
The Alabama Administrative Office of the Courts received $509,112.00 to implement the Alabama Family Drug Court Statewide System Reform. It is hoped that this system will serve families n the child welfare system who have been affected by substance abuse and to better improve their family outcomes.
The Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation was awarded $499,185.00 to improve data sharing among criminal justice and mental health/substance abuse agencies and their providers.
The Alabama Department of Public Health was obtained $400,000.00 to enhance prescription drug data collection in an effort to better address prescription drug abuse.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety was granted $326,989.00 to maintain and improve the Internet Crimes Against Children program.
The Alabama Office of Prosecution Services received a total of two grants for a total of $233,117.00. The first grant will be used to improve programs that prosecute and track sex offenders. The second grant will be for student loan repayment for eligible public defenders and prosecutors.
The Alabama Coalition Against Rape was awarded $126,045.00 to provide services to victims of sexual assault or domestic violence; while The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence was awarded $81,795.00 to offer services to victims of sexual assault or domestic violence.
The Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission obtained $453,000.00 to improve victim compensation payments to eligible crime victims.
Additionally, the cities of Montgomery received $77,075.00; Dothan was awarded $35,479.00; Auburn was granted $27,940.00; Phoenix City was granted $20,462.00; and Enterprise was granted $11,771.00.
Liberals and conservatives can argue over the role that the executive branch plays in distributing federal dollars back to the states, but this grant money comes to Alabama during a time that many of these departments can least afford any cuts to needed services.