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Virginia receives more than $6M in federal funding to support criminal justice programs

Posted at 6:15 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 21:52:11-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Criminal Justice programs will receive more than $6 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Monday.

The committee of the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) awarded 171 grants to localities, nonprofit organizations, and state agencies throughout Virginia.

“The COVID-19 crisis continues to create tremendous challenges in all areas of our society, and our criminal justice system is no different,” said Governor Northam. “Our public safety professionals are the front lines of this pandemic, and we must ensure they have the resources they need to perform their duties and provide critical services to Virginians who need them most. These grants will help state and local agencies and community organizations across the Commonwealth function as effectively as possible as we continue battling this virus.”

The CESF grants, a program under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, assist criminal justice entities in their "ongoing mitigation and response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic."

CESF grants will support the purchase of video technology to conduct remote hearings, laptops to enable more employees to telework, as well as additional support for community supervision as more individuals are being diverted away from incarceration, according to Northam.

The funding will be used to equip those working for criminal justice entities with personal protective equipment, decontamination supplies, and screening equipment to help "protect individuals when in-person contact cannot be avoided."

“Recognizing that there will be a continued need for this assistance, we made the strategic decision to disperse this funding in waves,” said DCJS Director Shannon Dion. “These grants will help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in our criminal justice system and in communities across Virginia.”

These awards constitute 56 percent of the $10.83 million in CESF grants awarded to the Commonwealth. DCJS anticipates putting out another solicitation within the next nine months to distribute the remaining funding to criminal justice entities in need.