Utah organizations get $38.8 million in grants from Department of Justice

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(The Center Square) – Thirty-four organizations in Utah are receiving a combined $38.8 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Justice, the department announced in a press release this week.

The Office of Justice Programs provided these grants to help “build community capacity to curb violence, serve victims and youth, and achieve fair outcomes through evidence-based criminal and juvenile justice strategies,” according to the release.

The Justice Department doled out about $4.4 billion to 3,700 organizations nationwide under this program.

The Utah Office for Victims of Crime got the biggest grant. It received a $13.78 million grant for its Victims of Crime Act assistance fund.

“This applicant will provide funds from the Crime Victims Fund to enhance crime victim services in the State,” the Justice Department explained in its grant database. “Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) assistance funds are typically competitively awarded by the State to local community-based organizations that provide direct services to crime victims.”

The Utah Office for Victims of Crime also received the third-biggest grant: $3.23 million for Victims of Crime Act compensation. The grant will allow the state to provide compensation to eligible crime victims, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Meanwhile, the second-largest grant went to Salt Lake County. It obtained $4 million for the Byrne Discretionary Community Project.

The county will use the funding to install suicide barriers in housing pods at the Salt Lake County Adult Detention Center. The county contests that this will save lives and taxpayer funding in medical bills, litigation, and lawsuits, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Additionally, the Utah Department of Health and Human Services got $2 million for its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

The state wants to modernize its system to use the most up-to-date American Society for Automation in Pharmacy standards, including updating and improving its data and data analytics. It also wants to figure out the best practices for electronically prescribing controlled substances in a way that will not cause dependency, the Justice Department explained.

Plus, the state’s Executive Office is getting $1.96 million for its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

“The JAG Program provides states, tribes, and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution, indigent defense, courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, planning, evaluation, technology improvement, crime victim and witness initiatives, mental health programs and related law enforcement and corrections programs, including behavioral programs and crisis intervention teams, and implementation of state crisis intervention court proceedings and related programs or initiatives including, but not limited to, mental health courts, drug courts, veterans courts, and extreme risk protection order programs,” a description of the program from the Bureau of Justice Assistance said.

The U.S. Department of Justice thinks the diversity of the programs it is funding shows its commitment to public safety.

“Everyone in this country deserves to be safe in their communities,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the release announcing the grants. “That is why, in addition to continuing our efforts to identify and prosecute the most violent criminals, the Justice Department is putting every available resource to work to support the efforts of our law enforcement and community partners nationwide. This significant investment will go directly to state and local programs that support the victims of crime, support officer safety, and wellness, build the public trust in law enforcement essential to public safety, and help make all of our communities safer.”

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