Access answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to different aspects of the John R. Justice (JRJ) Program. A PDF capturing the JRJ FAQs is also available.
JRJ FAQs (Updated December 2020)
Yes, a state or territory, including the District of Columbia, without eligible public defenders may still apply for JRJ funding. If a state does not have eligible “public defenders” (as defined by the JRJ statute) that state’s loan repayment disbursements will go to state and local prosecutors, by default. The state must still ensure a fair allocation of repayment benefits among prosecutors and public defenders wherever applicable. States should note that certain federal public defenders are eligible beneficiaries under the JRJ statute. Every state has full- time federal public defenders who practice within that state. Thus, the absence of eligible state or local “public defenders” will not, in and of itself, absolve the state from ensuring a fair allocation between eligible prosecutors and public defenders.
As described in the JRJ solicitation, applicants must describe the JRJ agency’s plan to consider a fair distribution of funding.
No. Although the statute does not specifically prohibit the awarding of JRJ funds to elected officials (assuming they otherwise would qualify as an eligible beneficiary), BJA, in its discretion, has determined that policy and ethical considerations preclude elected officials from being eligible. This prohibition does not extend to persons who hold elected offices other than as a prosecutor or public defender (e.g., city council member status unrelated to prosecutor/public defender position), provided: (1) a reasonable person could conclude that the individual’s elected status did not form a basis for their selection for JRJ benefits; (2) that the person did not use their office to influence a decision pertaining to the application; and (3) that the person’s obligations to his/her elected office do not interfere with the fulfillment of the JRJ service obligation.
Yes. BJA first started administering the program in 2010.
The state and territory funding allocation list can be found on the JRJ page of the BJA website.
Each state can spend no more than 10 percent of their total allocation on administrative costs. This includes all other budget line items other than tuition reimbursement costs. Please refer to OJP’s Financial Guide for further information on allowable costs.
Yes, a designated state agency may contract with a private non-profit organization to manage the JRJ program so long as the cost of such contract does not exceed 10 percent of the state’s allocation. No more than 10 percent of a state’s total allocation of JRJ funds may be spent on administrative costs.
BJA encourages all states to submit their applications in a timely fashion and has attempted to provide a reasonable application period, in an effort to allow for the completion of a quality application.
Each application year, the Governor of each state or territory, and the Mayor in Washington, D.C., must submit a letter designating a state agency to administer the JRJ program. Once the Governor has designated such agency, that Governor-designated agency must submit an application for JRJ funds. The JRJ state solicitation is available at: FY 2021 John R. Justice (JRJ) Program.
Prosecutors or public defenders who are interested in learning about, and/or applying for, JRJ loan repayment benefits should contact the state agency that has been designated by its Governor to administer the JRJ program. Governor-designated state agencies along with contact information can be found at: John R. Justice Governor-Designated State Agencies.
- Start date: October 1, 2021
- End date: September 30, 2023
Funds are disbursed in the beginning of the award once a financial clearance is granted and all withholding special conditions are sufficiently complied with. BJA will make a one-time allocation of funds to the Governor-designated state agency. The individual loan repayments will be handled directly by the Governor-designated state agency.
There are no statutorily- or BJA-imposed limitations regarding the number of years an attorney must practice before becoming eligible to apply for loan repayment benefits. The states, however, have the discretion to impose such a limitation if they so choose.
The Governor-designated state agency has discretion on determining the “cost of living adjustment” for applicants. We encourage states to work with their Department of Labor to determine the appropriate formula and make adjustments, if necessary, for any increases in the cost of living.
Full-time employment is considered “not less than 75 percent of a 40 hour work week” for the purpose of this program.
Not necessarily, but an applicant must be a “full-time employee” of a state or unit of local government (in the case of “prosecutors) or a “full-time employee” of a state, unit of local government, qualifying non-profit organization (under 42 U.S.C. §3797cc-21(b)(2)(B)(ii)) or qualifying full-time federal defender (under 42 U.S.C. § 3797cc-21(b)(2)(B)(iii)) prior to actual receipt of benefits.