(CNSNews.com) - The Biden Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it will spend $57 million on grants intended to "support criminal justice reform and advance racial equity in the criminal justice system.
"The grants will advance the department’s goal to promote fairness in the nation’s courts and corrections systems and align criminal justice practices with the latest science," the news release said.
"These investments make good on a pledge by the Justice Department to promote public safety and realize the promise of a just society that recognizes the dignity and humanity of everyone,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said.
The grants awarded by DOJ's Office of Justice Programs include the following:
-- $8 million for "new and innovative strategies" that address "chronic challenges" in the criminal justice system, including the "reform" of pre-trial processes, building police-community trust, and promoting "restorative justice and racial equity." (Examples of restorative justice include victim-offender meetings that may result in restitution and community service performed by the offender; community support for victims; and community efforts to help offenders in the areas of employment, education, mentoring, and social integration.)
-- $5 million for programs that help state, local, and tribal jurisdictions reduce crime and protect constitutional rights under the 6th Amendment (the right to a speedy trial).
-- $3-million to test new and "innovative" approaches to traditional enforcement mechanisms for neighborhoods experiencing high rates of less serious and low-level criminal offenses.
-- $300,000 to better understand the needs of persons affected by error or failure in the criminal justice system and develop best practices to identify these victims...
-- $5 million to increase access to legal assistance for victims of crime in underserved communities.
-- $4.9 million to improve and expand the availability of services for crime victims who are disabled, deaf, hard-of-hearing, limited English proficient, blind and/or visually impaired.
-- $2 million to support the National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community.
-- $800,000 to examine "how observed racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system might be reduced through public policy.
-- $2.9 million to help states minimize the potential for error in the trial of capital cases, improve the quality of legal representation provided to indigent defendants in state capital cases and support state prosecutors in developing appropriate standards of practice and qualifications.
-- $7.6 million to review individuals' claims of wrongful conviction.
-- $6.5 million to defray costs associated with the review of post-conviction cases, including DNA testing in violent felony cases where the results of such testing might show actual innocence.
The $57 million in grants mentioned above were preceded by two others:
-- $1.2 million to Clark University in Atlanta to conduct a "campus climate survey" at three Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
-- $2.7 million in grants "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."
The Office of Justice Programs says its mission is to "provide leadership, resources and solutions for creating safe, just and engaged communities."