Bar Journal - Spring 2004
$1,326.82 - $431,369.23 ~ $798,641.17 - $45,842,627
What's This Got to Do With Justice?
By: Mark Thompson, Director of Administratrion
Since the creation of the Department of Justice in 1986, the Department has continued to be assigned a variety of tasks as a public service to the citizens of New Hampshire. Each of the sums above represents programs that benefit our citizens. These are all part of the Department of Justice that few people know.
In 2000, the Legislature enacted an Address Confidentiality Program that allowed individuals, who feared for their safety due to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, to apply to the Department for a mailing address to be used by them essentially as a "cover" address to hide their true location from all individuals who present a threat to them. All correspondence, notices, or bills would be mailed to this address. As the address only exists in cooperation with postal authorities and is picked up by this office, a person who intercepts these mailings would not be able to physically locate the person to whom the letter was sent. We currently have 23 families (55 total people) who have applied for, been accepted, and currently use this program. On a daily basis, all first class mail forwarded to this fictitious address is collected and remailed to the correct address. Since the beginning of the program, the Department has forwarded over 3,500 individual pieces of mail at a cost of over $1,326.
Each day in New Hampshire, someone will become the victim of a violent crime. As a result of that victimization, they will be faced with paying for something - a medical bill, prescription, mental health therapy, for example. Sometime they just don't have the money for these services. That's when the Victim Compensation Program at the Department of Justice comes in. Created in 1990, this program assists innocent victims of violent crime with these unexpected, out of pocket, costs. To be eligible for consideration, the person must sustain personal injury from either a felony or misdemeanor, including driving under the influence, and have at least $100 in out-of-pocket costs.
There is no typical victim. They can be young or old; male or female; rich or poor. Unfortunately, the single largest class of victims served by this program are children who have been victims of sexual assaults and who need mental health counseling. In addition to the small administrative staff who process these claims, each claim is reviewed on a monthly basis by a volunteer board, the Victims Assistance Commission. This Board consists of an emergency room physician, a dentist, a mental health counselor, a lawyer, and a person who has been a victim. These individuals are nominated by the Attorney General and approved by the Governor and Executive Council. This program is supported by the Penalty Assessment Fund - the 20% addition to violations and criminal fines - and by federal funds. No state general funds are used. In the last fiscal year, 310 victims were supported by this program with reimbursement awards totaling $431,369.23.
There is a limit of $10,000 to award for each victim. Some victims can reach this amount very quickly with lost wages or funeral expenses. Other victims are supported for several years with co-pays on mental health therapy or prescription medications. Regardless of the cost, victimization is a tragic event for any individual. This program is aimed at making a difference as a victim pulls their life back together.
Each time a witness appears for the State of New Hampshire in any criminal case in any state court, that witness is afforded a witness fee and, in most cases, mileage. Since 1992, the DOJ's witness payment unit has been paying for all these civilians and law enforcement witnesses. In the last fiscal year, $798,641 was paid to 22,631 law enforcement witnesses and 12,152 civilian witnesses. While the program does not pay for itself, judicious management of this program has reduced the annual payment from $1.3 million in 1992 when the program was transferred by the Legislature from the courts, to just under $800,000 today.
Another way in which the actions of this Department serve the citizens of our State is with grants made each year to schools, government agencies, and nonprofit groups. Federal funds totaling over $45 million are currently being administered by the Department's Grants Management Unit.
This Unit acts for the Attorney General in providing administration and oversight of a number of grant programs focused on crime prevention and justice and is supported by state and federal funds. The federal grant programs are administered through the federal Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education.
Among the grant programs administered through the Attorney General's Grant Management Unit are the following:
Victim/Witness Assistance (100% penalty assessment funds)
In addition to supporting the Victims Compensation Program, funds collected through the statutory criminal fine penalty assessment are used to support various victim-oriented programs. These programs include: the continuation of victim/witness units in County Attorneys offices in Belknap, Carroll, Cheshire, Coos, Grafton and Sullivan counties; continued support for the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program which supports many victim advocate positions across the State; funding to the NH Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence to support sexual assault programs; starting Child Advocacy Centers designed to minimize the trauma inflicted on child victims through their participation in the criminal justice system while significantly increasing conviction rates; and, various training initiatives for victim services providers.
Victims of Crime Act/Crime Victim Assistance (100% federal funds)
The Victims of Crime Act authorizes funding to states to support programs that provide direct services to crime victims, with sexual assault, spousal abuse and child abuse programs identified as priority areas. The State of New Hampshire received $2,040,000 in FY 2002 and $1,920,000 in FY 2003. Generally in New Hampshire, these grant funds have been awarded to agencies providing direct services to adult and child victims of physical and sexual abuse and to other programs designed to assist victims of violence and trauma. The majority of these grants have gone to member agencies of the NH Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. Other funds have been used to support programs such as the NH Court Appointed Special Advocates Program, Mental Health Programs, Victim-Offender Mediation programs and Victim/Witness Advocate Programs in law enforcement agencies.
Violence Against Women Act Grants (100% federal funds)
Grant funds under the Violence Against Women Act are provided under a formula designed to provide subgrants to law enforcement, prosecutors, victim services and the courts in order to combat violent crimes against women. The State received $1,032,000 in FY 2002 and $1,028,000 in FY 2003 from this grant program. Awards made under this program follow an implementation plan developed by a planning committee, with representation from each of the above subgrant areas mentioned. Subgrants from this program have generally been issued to support projects in 5 approved areas: 1) training of law enforcement officers, judges, court personnel, and prosecutors; 2) expanding units of law enforcement, and prosecutors; 3) development and implementation of more effective policies devoted to preventing, identifying and responding to violent crimes against women; 4) development, installing or expanding data collection and communication systems; and 5) developing, enlarging or strengthening of victim services. In addition to this formula grant program, New Hampshire receives funding from two Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Discretionary Grants. The first grant is utilized by the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Division for Children, Youth and Families to provide domestic violence program specialists in 5 rural DCYF district offices. From the onset of this grant in 1996, the State has received $1,600,458 in funding.
The second Rural Grant program assists in supporting the Whole Village Resource Center in northern NH. The Whole Village helps fund the Brian's House Visitation Center, which offers a safe haven for children to visit with their non-custodial parents, as well as a location for monitored custodial exchanges to occur. This State had received a total of $242,221 since 1999 from this program. Beginning in 2002, New Hampshire received funds from the Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program. This discretionary grant has provided $745,000 to assist six family visitation centers located throughout the State. The Centers are able to provide a safe environment for supervised visitation and safe exchange between parents in situations involving domestic violence and safe exchange between parents in situations involving domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and stalking.
Enforcing Underage Drinking Law (100% federal funds)
The Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Grant Program provides funding to states as formula grants to support and enhance state efforts, in cooperation with local jurisdictions, to enforce laws prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to, or the consumption of alcoholic beverages by, minors. The State of New Hampshire received $359,208 in FY 2001 and $360,000 in FY 2002. These funds continue to support the implementation of increased enforcement and education activities by law enforcement in communities around the State.
Byrne Formula Grant Program (100% federal funds)
The Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Formula Grant Program allocates federal funds to states based on a modified population based formula. The State of New Hampshire received $3,052,472 in FY 2002 and $3,087,951 in FY 2003. Each state must develop a strategic, multiyear violence prevention and drug control strategy to demonstrate that funds will be used in accordance with the purposes allowed by law. New Hampshire has funded a variety of programs from these grant funds, including drug enforcement through the New Hampshire Multi-jurisdictional Drug Task Force, criminal justice records improvement, youth-at-risk crime prevention programs, and mentoring. The Attorney General is directing new subgrants for programs which have both local support and a scientific basis for success.
Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program (100% federal funds)
Federal funds in the amount of $257,162 were received from the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program in FY 2002 and $268,230 for FY 2003. The purpose of this program is to provide funds to local units of government to reduce crime and improve public safety. Subgrant programs included the purchase of police equipment and technology, school security enhancements, police overtime and crime prevention activities. Chief among the activities funded under this program has been assisting local law enforcement agencies in purchasing records management systems capable of reporting to the FBI's National Incident Based Reporting System. Also of significant note was the awarding of $500,000 to the Public Health Lab for additional testing capability in the wake of the national anthrax attacks.
National Criminal History Improvement Program (100% federal funds)
The funding from the National Criminal History Improvement Program, which amounted to $476,996 for New Hampshire in FY 2002 and $600,000 for FY 2003, is designed to assist states in enhancing the quality, completeness and accessibility of the nation's criminal history record systems. Enhancing the timeliness and accuracy of criminal records is the main goal of this program. The grant funding from this program has been utilized to develop the State's Criminal Justice Information System, to facilitate participation in the National Crime Information Center's Interstate Identification Index System, and to develop a Tri-State Automated Fingerprint Identification System that is compatible with the FBI's Interstate Automated Fingerprint Identification System. In addition, included under this program office was the National Sex Offender Registry Assistance Program, which provided the State with $210,000 in FY 1998 to fund a project to enhance the State's sexual offender registry to be compatible with the Criminal Justice Information System.
Statistical Analysis Center (100% federal funds)
The Statistical Analysis Center Grant Program provides funding to states to encourage capabilities for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of criminal justice statistical information. The State received $49,780 in FY 2001. The NH Department of Justice continues its working collaboration with the Northern New England Consortium for the study of the Prevention and Control of Crime, also known as Justiceworks at the University of New Hampshire. The latest project was the development of a Data Map and Flow Chart of the New Hampshire Criminal Justice System.
Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners (100% federal funds)
The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Grant Program provides funding to states as formula grants to support the implementation of a residential substance abuse treatment program within State correctional and detention facilities. The State of New Hampshire received $314,244 in FY 2001 and $349,605 in FY 2002. These funds continue to support treatment programs at the Department of Corrections, Lakes Region Facility in Laconia and the Division for Juvenile Justice Services, Youth Development Center in Manchester, the State's only juvenile detention facility.
Violent Offender Incarceration/Truth-in-Sentencing (100% federal funds)
The Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Grant Program provides funding to states as formula grants to build or expand permanent or temporary correctional facilities, to increase bed space for the confinement of adult violent offenders and for nonviolent offenders and criminal aliens to free space for violent offenders, as well as to build or expand juvenile correctional facilities. Funds may also be utilized for expenses associated with implementing a comprehensive program of substance abuse testing, sanctions, and treatment. The State of New Hampshire received a total of $14,115,258 between 1996-2001. The majority of these funds were subgranted to the Division of Juvenile Justice Services to fund the design and construction of a 144 bed architecturally secure juvenile facility on the grounds of the Youth Development Center in Manchester. The remaining 10% has been subgranted to the Department of Corrections to implement a comprehensive substance abuse testing program.
Youth Offender Program (100% federal funds)
The Youth Offender Program is designed to provide funding to states to provide postsecondary education, postsecondary vocational training, and related services to "youth offenders" up to age 25, who are incarcerated in a state prison, including a pre-release facility, and are eligible for parole or release within five years. The State of New Hampshire received $45,582 in FY 2001 and $37,193 in FY 2002. These funds are subgranted to the NH Department of Corrections to be utilized for tuition, books, and related materials for students enrolled in courses offered by NH Community Technical College and New England College at the State Prison for Men/Women.
Domestic Preparedness Equipment Support Program (100% federal funds)
The Domestic Preparedness Equipment Support Program was created prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States to deal with just such an event. The program was designed to provide resources to first responders to address their needs in dealing with weapons of mass destruction terrorist incidents. During this biennium, New Hampshire was awarded $481,000 from federal fiscal year 2000, $1,020,000 from federal FY 2001, and $3,187,000 from federal FY 2002. Local law enforcement, emergency medical services and fire departments were awarded funding for personal protective equipment and decontamination supplies under this program. Regional hazardous materials teams have received hazardous materials decontamination units, protective equipment, and detection equipment under this grant program.
National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act (100% federal funds)
The Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act Grant Program is administered through the National Institute of Justice and in fiscal year 2002 New Hampshire was awarded $29,178. For the second year, New Hampshire was awarded $29,805. This funding has been used at both the State Police Crime Laboratory and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in pursuit of national accreditation.
Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program (100% federal funds)
The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program is a discretionary program created to assist law enforcement agencies in buying bullet resistant vests for officers. New Hampshire was able to secure $9,135.80 in FY 2002 to equip state law enforcement personnel. Our request for funding was denied in fiscal year 2003 due to the overwhelming demand for this program and the federal priority for communities with a population of fewer than 100,000
These are all programs and services run by the dedicated men and women in that part of the Department few people know. But, while they deal in relative obscurity, these people are making a difference in the lives of our citizens each day of the year.
Mark Thompson, Director of Administration, Department of Justice, Concord, New Hampshire.