Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $2,090,798)
The Department of Public Safety, Division of Public Safety Planning (Office of Justice Program) is the designated state agency in Mississippi for administering the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG).
The mission of the Division of Public Safety Planning (DPSP) is to increase public safety through planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating programs in the areas of highway safety, criminal and juvenile justice system improvements, drug and alcohol abuse education, prevention, intervention, and services to victims of crime. DPSP administers federal formula and incentive grants as follows: (1) highway safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Administration; (2) drug control, violent crime and criminal justice system improvement, juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, substance abuse treatment for incarcerated offenders, and state and local law enforcement from the Office of Justice Programs, U. S. Department of Justice. To achieve and sustain its mission, DPSP coordinates with state, local and public and private nonprofit agencies, develops and implements a strategic justice plan, funds projects under the strategic plan, evaluates programs and implement special initiatives.
Mississippi's JAG application is based on the strategic justice plan that has been developed to guide JAG funding and justice system improvements in the state. The development of the state's strategy followed a community-engagement model and involved collaboration with major system stakeholders (law enforcement, prosecution, defenders, judiciary, and corrections), public and private nonprofit agencies and citizens. The development involved a significant amount of research, data analyses, stakeholder input, a drug and violent crime summit, focus groups and a priority and goal development forum. A more detailed presentation of the state's strategic justice plan process is included in other parts of the application.
The state's strategy represents a varied approach to addressing crime issues facing the state's justice system and local communities. Over the span of years this strategy will be in effect and several crime concerns will be addressed. Among the issues to be addressed are crime prevention, data quality and accessibility, drug court programs, violent crime, training, technology upgrades, improving system capabilities and evaluation. Special emphasis will be placed on crime prevention through community engagement. This effort will encompass more than just protection of homes and occupants. It will challenge citizens and communities to work together, pooling resources to help build coalitions among community-based organizations, schools, businesses, and the justice system community.
The state's strategic justice plan proposes to use evidenced-based programs which are proven to be effective or promising wherever practical or feasible. It is realized that budget constraints at the federal, state and local levels make funding programs whose effectiveness has been proven necessary. However, the strategy recognizes that state and local programs with viable evaluation components may become innovative programs that can serve as models for other states. The SAA (State Administering Agency) will continue to provide training and technical assistance in identifying and using evidenced-based strategies at state and local levels.
The SAA will continue to partner with BJA/OJP in its focus on priorities in addressing challenges through the Justice Assistance Grant Partnership. The Bureau of Justice Assistance and State Administering Agency both recognize that the economy has resulted in significant pressures on state and local criminal justice systems.
The priority areas include funding evidence-based programs or practices when their effectiveness has been demonstrated by causal evidence generally obtained through one or more outcome evaluations. Causal evidence documents a relationship between an activity or intervention (including technology) and its intended outcome, including measuring the direction and size of a change, and the extent to which a change may be attributed to the activity or intervention. The Statewide Criminal Justice Plan is a new project launched by BJA in 2011 with the National Criminal Justice Association to assist SAAs in strategically investing their Byrne JAG funding. Recidivism reduction and community corrections reduce the overall costs of incarceration in a manner that promotes public safety while effective community supervision coupled with evidence-based program interventions can result in significant reductions in recidivism. Indigent defense is another key priority area ensuring that justice is truly done in the criminal justice system and supported by indigent defense. Evidence-based programs and smart policing programs are evidenced-based and data-driven law enforcement efforts that allow agencies to maximize their resources and more efficiently target emerging and chronic crime problems, hopefully, preventing crimes before they occur and ultimately lessening the burden on the courts and the justice system overall. Officer safety and wellness is another important priority for the Department of Justice that has become highly visible as recent trends have shown an increase in law enforcement deaths.
Funds in this application will be used to support: Hot Spots Policing; Local law enforcement assistance; Drug Courts; Workforce, Technology, and Data Enhancement; Body-Worn Cameras; and Bullet-Proof Vests.