Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $89,310)
The Puerto Rico Department of Justice proposes implementing the John R. Justice (JRJ) Formula Grant Program for fiscal year 23 of the BJA. The purpose is to encourage qualified attorneys to enter and remain in careers as public defenders and prosecutors for at least three years, helping them reduce their student loan debt in our jurisdiction. Priority will be given to eligible participants with the lowest ability to repay student loan debt, considering Puerto Rico's cost of living index and the fragile economic situation. The Department will use the "Fair Distribution Principle" to distribute the award funds.
The Department has also considered a process for awarding additional John R. Justice benefits on behalf of individuals who have already completed the initial three-year term of service of their original John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program Service Agreement and would like to apply for additional benefits in exchange for additional terms of service. After evaluating the regular beneficiaries, individuals from that sector could be considered if funds are available. The applicants should have complied with all the program requirements during his/her participation in the program during the past three years and will have to demonstrate a commitment to continue one more year in the public service to be eligible. This opportunity will be disseminated through public announcements.
Among the proposed activities is the use of various outreach methods to ensure that all eligible public defense and prosecutors have the necessary knowledge and opportunities to apply for the student loan repayment program. This outreach strategy will include personal direct notifications by electronic mail, and technical tools such as website and social media. It will also include printed materials dissemination to both, public defense, and prosecutor offices. This outreach will target the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, full-time state prosecutors, and state public defenders under the Legal Aid Society and federal public defenders and make payments directly to the financial institutions that hold the student loans.