Funding Technology in the Criminal Justice System
Funding Technology in the Criminal Justice System

By Shannon M. Day, Senior Grants Development Consultant (Public Safety)


Technology is used across the criminal justice spectrum to streamline processes, ensure compliance, and protect people and their data. Gone are the days of hand-written police reports faxed to the District Attorney’s office.

We all know how important technology is, but equipment ages, technology advances, and sometimes we don’t know how to fund it. Federal and state grantmakers provide funding to help those working within the criminal justice system keep ahead of the curve or at least keep abreast with it.

One of these grant programs is the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. Each year, the Department of Justice offers formula and discretionary funding. This article will focus on the former, also called Jag Local[1]. To determine allocation eligibility and funding amounts, the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics utilizes three-year crime averages[2]. You can check if your city or county is on the list here. Don’t fret if you’re not on the list; this means you apply through your state administering agency for discretionary JAG funding.

Each year, the Department of Justice determines priority areas JAG recipients should focus on to support, enhance, or improve operations in law enforcement, prosecution and courts, prevention and education, corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, crime victim and witness programs, mental health, behavioral health, and crisis intervention, and planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs. In 2023, these priority areas are:

  • Advancing Justice System Reform Efforts
  • Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities
  • Preventing and Combating Hate Crimes
  • Crime and Violence Reduction Strategies
  • Community-Based Violence Intervention (CVI) Approaches

While it’s recommended that grant proposals address these areas, JAG funding is quite flexible, may be used for a wide range of initiatives[3], and can be very tech friendly. Just a few examples include:

  • Community safety - purchasing gunfire detection technology.
  • Training and professional development - supporting virtual reality de-escalation training.
  • Drug response and enforcement - purchasing fentanyl and methamphetamine detection equipment, including handheld instruments.
  • Information sharing - developing programs to improve criminal justice information systems (including automated fingerprint identification systems) to assist law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and corrections organizations.
  • Corrections - purchasing of managed access systems and other mitigation technologies to prevent, detect, seize, or stop the presence and use of contraband cellphones within correctional facilities.

When developing your proposal, the important thing to remember is how the technology your agency needs will help you meet your goals and better serve your community.


[1] Allocations. Bureau of Justice Assistance. (n.d.).

[2] Justice assistance grant (JAG) program, 2021 - Bureau of Justice Statistics. (n.d.).

[3] Purposes for which funds awarded under the Edward Byrne Memorial ... (n.d.-b).