By Jason Ziedenberg
In the fall of 2008, the national economy fell off a cliff. For state, county, and city officials, alarm bells were sounding off as revenue streams that supported everything from schools, to parks to prisons and police were suddenly under strain.
Staff at local probation and parole departments had the opportunity to see first-hand what an “fiscal emergency” looks like. System leaders were charged with the task of making huge cuts to treatment, housing and services for people under criminal justice supervision, and begged and borrowed every dollar they could find to stave off even more cuts to community-based organizations, and layoffs of staff.
During a time when many Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and community supervision agencies were trying to navigate the Great Recession, the Edwards Byrne Memorial Justice Grant (JAG) funds that government agencies received were a lifeline. Under the 2008 and 2009 federal stimulus, billions of dollars were funneled through JAG to shore up local criminal justice services.