The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program: Reform or Eliminate?
President Bush has proposed the elimination of Byrne Grants in this year's budget. While several groups across the ideological spectrum find some merit in this proposal, others have argued that eliminating the program is like "throwing the baby out with the bath water." This April 5th panel discussion will cover the full range of thought on reform initiatives, comprised of representatives from a wide array of groups.

April 3, 2005

The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program: Reform or Eliminate?
A luncheon briefing sponsored by the House of Representatives Public Safety, Sentencing and Incarceration Reform Caucus

Tuesday, April 5 from 12:45-2:00 pm
2226 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

The Congressional Caucus on Public Safety, Sentencing and Incarceration Reform is hosting a briefing on current efforts to reform the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. The Byrne Grant program provides millions of dollars each year to local and state agencies for crime prevention initiatives. In recent years, however, the program has come under criticism for its role in perpetuating racial disparities, police corruption, and civil rights abuses across the country.

The most notorious Bryne-funded scandal occurred in Tulia, Texas where dozens of African American residents (representing 16 percent of the town’s black population) were arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to decades in prison, through the uncorroborated testimony from one white undercover officer. Texas Gov. Rick Perry eventually pardoned those incarcerated (four years later), but these kinds of scandals have plagued the program. More generally, the program has also been criticized for wasting taxpayer money and failing to reduce crime.

President Bush has proposed the elimination of Byrne Grants in this year’s budget. While several groups across the ideological spectrum find some merit in this proposal, others have argued that eliminating the program is like “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” The panel discussion will cover the full range of thought on reform initiatives and will be comprised of representatives from a wide array of groups, with varying perspectives and a history of involvement with the program, including the ACLU, Heritage Foundation, Open Society Policy Center, Drug Policy Alliance Network, and the National Taxpayers Union.

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