In Letter to Congress, Rowe Urges Drug Enforcement Funding Restored

March 3, 2008


Calling the funding essential to the operation of state crime and drug enforcement efforts, Attorney General Steve Rowe, joined by the 55 other Attorneys General from all jurisdictions of the United States today issued a letter calling on Congressional leaders to restore funding to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne-JAG).

Byrne-JAG is currently the only source of funding available to local and state law enforcement for multijurisdictional drug enforcement, including methamphetamine initiatives, and is a critical source of funds for drug courts, law enforcement collaboration, gang prevention, and prisoner reentry programs.

In FY 2007, the Byrne-JAG program was funded at $520 million. For FY 2008, the Senate had originally funded the Byrne-JAG program at $660 million and the House at $600 million in their respective appropriations bills. However, in the omnibus FY 2008 appropriations bill signed into law by President Bush in December of 2007, the Byrne-JAG program funding was cut to $170 million for the coming year ? a 67 percent decrease from 2007 funding levels.

In FY 2007 Maine received $1,700,000 in Byrne-JAG grant money. For FY 2008, that amount has been reduced to approximately $600,000, a $1,100,000 million decrease from the 2007 funding level. In Maine, the Byrne-JAG money pays for six drug prosecutors in the Attorney General?s Office and13 task force officer positions in the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, which is part of the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Rowe and the attorneys general assert in their letter that the Bryne-JAG cuts would devastate state law enforcement efforts by shutting down multi-jurisdictional drug and gang task forces, requiring layoffs of police and prosecutors, and cutting funding to programs proven to assist drug-addicted citizens in becoming productive members of society.

The effort to restore funding has been spearheaded by Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, and Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.

?Bryne-JAG funding has fueled successful drug investigations and prosecutions across the nation, resulting in a substantial reduction of drugs on our streets, said Attorney General Steve Rowe. ?If these cuts are not restored, years of progress in fighting drug trafficking will come to an end. Drug traffickers will undoubtedly view this as a green light to increase operations.?


March 3, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577