Murkowski Leverages Appropriations Seat to Boost Law Enforcement and Justice System in Alaska

Heroin Use Prevention, Community-Oriented Policing, Support for Drug Courts and Victims of Child of Abuse Included in Funding Bill

One day after Senator Murkowski decried public safety conditions in rural Alaska, the Senate Appropriations Committee finalized its 2016 Justice Department funding bill, which includes strong funding to support justice services and law enforcement in Alaska as requested by Senator Lisa Murkowski.

“Alaska faces unique law enforcement challenges, and though we’ve come up with innovative solutions to make progress, we still have a long way to go. The rates of crime, domestic violence, sexual assault, and drug abuse—especially in rural Alaska—are truly staggering,” said Murkowski. “These appropriations bills are where we demonstrate our commitment to ending the cycle of violence through supporting those dealing with it hands-on, and I thank my colleagues for working with me to curb this epidemic in our villages.”

The CJS appropriations bill for FY2016 includes the following Alaska-related provisions:

Fighting the Heroin Epidemic: Heroin use throughout Alaska is spiking to almost epidemic levels. Senator Murkowski has successfully allocated $7 million for law enforcement agencies in areas with high per capita levels of primary treatment admissions for use of heroin and opioids.

Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) Hiring: The federal program to assist local communities in hiring law enforcement officers is funded at $187 million. Senator Murkowski strongly believes that we need peacekeeping models in all of our communities that are culturally sensitive to Native people – like those found in the COPS program. This year’s CJS appropriations bill sets aside $30 million for tribes to accomplish this goal. These funds can be used to hire new Village Public Safety Officers and Village Police Officers.

Public Safety for Tribes: The Office of Justice Programs works to increase public safety by partnering with federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems. Senator Murkowski successfully inserted a provision into this year’s CJS funding bill, requiring that 7% of all funding for Office of Justice Program grants nationwide be set aside for tribes.

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Grant Programs: The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) administers multiple grant programs designed to develop the nation's capacity to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault by strengthening services to victims and holding offenders accountable.

  • STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program – STOP grants are awarded to states in order to enhance the capacity of local communities to develop and strengthen effective law enforcement, prosecution strategies, and victim services in cases involving violent crimes against women. The subcommittee approved $215 million in funding for these grants -- $22 million more than requested by the President.
  • Services for Rural Victims – This funding will support projects uniquely designed to address and prevent crimes such as domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in rural areas. The subcommittee approved $35 million in funding, $2 million more than requested by the President.
  • Youth-Oriented Programs – This funding will support the development and implementation of strategies targeted at youth victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. Senator Murkowski requested $15 million, $5 million more than requested by the President.
Drug Courts: Drug courts in Alaska have been instrumental in reducing recidivism and are an effective way to break the cycle of abuse and crime. Senator Murkowski has been a strong advocate of drug courts for many years, and has secured $41 million to support drug courts throughout Alaska – with locations including Ketchikan, Palmer, Bethel, Juneau and Anchorage.

Victims of Child Abuse: Senator Murkowski believes that the impact of child abuse evolves into destructive behavior later in life; $20 million has been allocated to support victims of child abuse and help them cope psychologically.