The Justice Department announced today 49 awards to states, territories, and the District of Columbia as part of the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), this investment of over $231 million will fund state crisis intervention court proceedings, including but not limited to, extreme risk protection order (ERPO) programs that work to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others. This investment in community safety is authorized by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022, historic legislation to address and reduce gun violence.
“The Justice Department is working relentlessly to protect communities from violent crime and the gun violence that often drives it, and the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program is an important part of that effort,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “These awards will support the kinds of crisis intervention programs that we know save lives and help protect children, families, and communities across the country from senseless acts of gun violence.”
These awards, administered by the Department’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), provide funding to states for the creation and implementation of extreme risk protection order programs, state crisis intervention court proceedings, and related gun violence reduction initiatives.
“The Department of Justice’s strategy to reduce violent crime and gun violence includes prioritizing support for successful, evidence-based programs,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “The grants announced today invest in and highlight proven state and local violence prevention and intervention programs, that will make our communities safer.”
Extreme risk protection order programs empower family members, health care providers, school officials and law enforcement officers to petition a court to temporarily prevent a person from accessing firearms if they are found to be a danger to themselves or others. Funds can also support interventions like drug, mental health and veterans’ treatment courts, gun violence recovery courts, behavior health deflection and outpatient treatment centers.
“Protecting communities from gun crime is an urgent public safety challenge and a critical part of the Justice Department’s work to ensure that everyone in this country can live free from the fear of violence,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “The resources we are announcing today will give communities the tools they need to prevent firearm violence and deliver support to those who are at risk of committing or being victimized by gun crime.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act also seeks to ensure that extreme risk protection order laws and programs are implemented in accordance with the Constitution and provide for adequate due process protections. Projects funded under this program will need to demonstrate that they have taken measures to safeguard the constitutional rights of an individual subject to a crisis intervention program or ERPO initiative. The Justice Department has long supported state efforts to increase the use of ERPOs and in 2021 the Department released model legislation to help states create their own extreme risk protection order systems and provide for intervention before warning signs turn into tragedy.
Signed into law by President Biden in June 2022, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is the most significant piece of federal gun safety legislation in almost three decades and comes as a response to recent mass shootings and to the far more common, but no less tragic, incidents of community gun violence. Including the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program, the law allocates a total of $1.4 billion to OJP over five years to develop, implement, and sustain meaningful investments in safer communities.
“These awards will help meet two monumental public safety challenges — the alarming proliferation of gun violence in our country and the clear need for front-end interventions to slow the cycle of violence and victimization in our most underserved communities,” said BJA Director Karhlton F. Moore. “The Bureau of Justice Assistance is proud to make these resources available to states as a critical part of its mission to reduce and prevent crime and to promote a fair and effective criminal justice system.”