The Biden administration’s Department of Justice is shelling out $57 million to support "racial equity" and "criminal justice reform."
Wednesday’s announcement said the multi-million-dollar allocation will "support criminal justice reform and advance racial equity in the criminal justice system" through grants aimed at advancing the DOJ’s "goal to promote fairness in the nation’s courts and corrections systems and align criminal justice practices with the latest science."
"Equal justice is not a self-executing proposition — it takes work to make it real — and it will take a collective commitment from all of us at the federal, state and local levels to bring that ideal to life," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement. "These investments make good on a pledge by the Department of Justice to promote public safety and realize the promise of a just society that recognizes the dignity and humanity of everyone."
The funding "will support efforts at the state, territory, local and Tribal levels to institute more effective and equitable criminal justice policies and practices," as well as "strategies to ensure the protection of defendants’ and incarcerated individuals’ constitutional rights and safety and efforts to address wrongful convictions." The grants are administered by the department’s Office of Justice Programs.
The awards include $8 million under the Field Initiated: Encouraging Innovation program, "designed to support new and innovative strategies that better enable criminal justice systems to prevent and respond to emerging and chronic challenges, including strategies that will increase opportunities for diversion, reform pretrial processes, build police-community trust and promote restorative justice and racial equity." Another $5 million will be administered under the National Initiatives — Justice for All: Effective Administration of Criminal Justice Training and Technical Assistance Program.
The largest award — $9.8 million — will be administered under the Justice Counts Implementation Program, "which helps states adopt a core set of criminal justice metrics so that policymakers have access to actionable data to make policy and budgetary decisions."
Another $7.6 million will be administered under the Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions Program, which supports efforts by wrongful conviction review entities that represent individuals with post-conviction claims of innocence to review individual cases.
The DOJ said $6.5 million will go to the Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence program, which helps defrays costs associated with postconviction case review, evidence location and DNA testing in violent felony cases, as defined by state law, where the results of such testing might show actual innocence.
Atlanta’s Clark University received $1.2 million under the National Institute of Justice’s Research and Evaluation on Violence Against Women portfolio to conduct a campus climate survey at three historically Black colleges and universities.
The NIJ has also awarded $2.7 million in grants under the W.E.B. Du Bois Program of Research on Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System to "perform rigorous research that will help build knowledge about the connections between race, crime, violence and the administration of justice in the United States." Those grants were announced earlier and are not included in Wednesday’s total.