Justice Department Announces Publication of the First Volume of the National Firearms in Commerce and Trafficking Assessment

First Joint Academic Study on Topic in More Than 20 Years
 

The Justice Department announced the publication of the first volume of the National Firearms in Commerce and Trafficking Assessment (NFCTA), a four-part, comprehensive examination of commerce in firearms and the diversion of firearms to illegal markets.

“Last year, I directed ATF to undertake its first comprehensive study of criminal gun trafficking in over two decades,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “The first volume published today provides critical, data-driven insights on firearms commerce and technology trends that will inform our efforts to understand and disrupt gun trafficking networks.  We will continue to work alongside our partners to provide valuable lessons that will help agents, prosecutors, and policymakers tackle modern criminal gun trafficking enterprises.”

“We can only address the current rise in violence if we have the best available information and use the most effective tools and research to fuel our efforts” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “This report is an important step in that direction. The Department will continue to gather the data necessary to tailor our approach at the most significant drivers of gun violence and take shooters off the streets.”

In April 2021, as part of the department’s strategy to combat the rise in violent crime, President Biden and Attorney General Garland directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to issue a comprehensive report on firearms commerce and trafficking. Volume I of the NFCTA, issued today, is a broad overview of firearms commerce in the United States, covering data from 2000 to 2020.

Volume I presents and analyzes data collected by ATF and other federal agencies related to the manufacture, exportation, and importation of firearms. Between 2000 and 2020, the number of Gun Control Act (GCA) firearms and National Firearms Act (NFA) weapons that were domestically manufactured, exported by U.S. manufacturers, or imported into the U.S. increased by 187%, 240% and 350% respectively. The report highlights trends in firearm commerce, noting that – for example – over the last decade, the pistol has become the dominant firearm type manufactured and imported into the U.S., and the number of short-barreled rifles manufactured annually has increased 24,080% between 2000 and 2020.

Volume I also analyzes the past 20 years of technological developments affecting firearms commerce. One of the most significant developments in this period has been the proliferation of privately made firearms (PMFs). Since the early 2000s, advances in firearm manufacturing and design, combined with the ready online availability of the parts and information necessary to assemble PMFs, have made it easier for unlicensed persons to make a firearm at home without any records or a background check. These PMFs lack identifying markings, and often have no associated recordkeeping, making it difficult for law enforcement to know how many are made and distributed into commerce. The data available, however, makes it clear that criminals are actively making, using, and distributing PMFs both domestically and internationally. The number of suspected PMFs recovered by law enforcement and subsequently traced by ATF increased 1,000% between 2016 and 2021.  To curb the proliferation of PMFs, the Department announced a new rule that updates the regulatory definitions for firearms and clarifies that background checks are required for buy-build-shoot firearms kits that are sold commercially.   

To produce the NFCTA, the ATF assembled a team of subject experts from ATF, as well as from academic and related fields. Although ATF issues a variety of public and law enforcement reports and bulletins regarding firearm commerce, trafficking, and related issues every year, it has not undertaken a joint academic study on the scale of the NFCTA in more than 20 years.

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Justice Department Announces Funding to Advance Community Policing and Collaborative Reform Initiative

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the availability of approximately $40 million in funding in Community Policing Development (CPD) grants and roughly $5 million for the Collaborative Reform Initiative. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland first announced the expansion of technical assistance services offered to law enforcement agencies through the Collaborative Reform Initiative in March 2022.

The Community Oriented Policing Services’ (COPS Office) CPD funds are used to help law enforcement implement community policing through the development and testing of innovative strategies; building knowledge about effective practices and outcomes; and supporting creative approaches to preventing crime and promoting safe communities. The Collaborative Reform Initiative offers a range of intermediary and intensive forms of technical assistance, including targeted assistance following a critical incident, issue-specific reviews and analysis, and in-depth assessments on systemic issues that damage community trust and confidence. Each level of the initiative’s assistance is voluntary and provided at the request of law enforcement agencies.

“Nothing is more important than keeping our communities safe,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Each day, approximately half a million people throughout the United States call 911 for help and there are hundreds of thousands more daily interactions between law enforcement and members of the communities they serve. The funding we are announcing today is critical to the department’s commitment to public safety and best practices in community policing.”

Highlights of the 2022 CPD funding include:

  • Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT). Up to $10 million will support crisis intervention teams.

  • De-escalation Training. Up to $15 million will support national level de-escalation training for officers through a network of regional centers.

  • Accreditation. Up to $8 million to expand state accreditation programs and assist agencies with gaining accreditation will ensure compliance with state and national standards, covering all aspects of law enforcement policies, procedures and practices.

  • COPS Microgrants. Up to $5 million will support local agencies’ demonstration or pilot projects, known as COPS Microgrants. These projects offer creative ideas to advance crime fighting, community engagement, problem solving or organizational changes to support community policing.

  • Tolerance, Diversity and Anti-Bias Training. Up to $2 million will support the delivery of tolerance, diversity and anti-bias training for law enforcement officers.

The Collaborative Reform Initiative continuum includes:

  • A continuation of the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC). Established in 2017, CRI-TAC provides a wide range of targeted technical assistance services and involves a coalition of support and expertise from ten leading law enforcement stakeholder organizations. Through CRI-TAC’s “by the field, for the field” approach, the department facilitates customizable, short-term technical assistance on more than 60 topics. Last year, CRI-TAC worked with over 170 law enforcement agencies. The new initiative will maintain CRI-TAC as its first level of support.

  • An updated Critical Response. A law enforcement agency experiencing a high-profile event or other special circumstance will be able to reach out to the COPS Office for needed technical assistance. Like CRI-TAC, this program is also customizable and provides flexible assistance to law enforcement agencies in a variety of ways. Once an agency connects with the Department of Justice, tools will be in place to offer support ranging from after-action reviews, to peer-to-peer exchanges, to data analysis and recommendations, to facilitating discussions with experts. The initiative will maintain the Critical Response program as its second level of support.

  • An updated Organizational Assessments. This program will offer the most intensive form of support, involving in-depth assessments on systemic issues. Under the new initiative, areas for reform will be addressed with timely, ongoing and actionable guidance. Participating agencies will be provided with the technical assistance they need to accomplish reforms as they are identified. This program is a voluntary opportunity for an agency that knows it needs to make changes and wants to make changes. The department will prioritize offering this third level of support to agencies that have a clear desire to engage with the model and advance community policing.

The CPD solicitation will close on June 23, 2022, and the Collaborative Reform solicitation will close on July 8, 2022. Additional information can be found on the COPS website at https://cops.usdoj.gov/grants.

The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation’s crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance. Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to agency for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. The COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and Tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 135,000 officers.

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Justice Department Releases over $320 Million for Hiring LE Officers, Improving School Safety, Combating Illicit Drug Distribution

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced Friday that the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) have released over $320 million in grant solicitations for programs that advance community policing, keep school students safe, and combat the production and distribution of illegal drugs.

“The Justice Department is committed to providing our state, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners with the resources they need to keep our communities safe,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “With these funds, the Department is supporting law enforcement agencies, as well as the residents they serve, by increasing their capacity to disrupt illegal drug trafficking, hire officers committed to using best practices to serve their communities, and keep children safe in school.”

“These grants represent our commitment to provide law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve with critical resources to make our communities safer for everyone that lives, works, and plays in them,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

The announced solicitations include $156.5 million available for the COPS Hiring Program (CHP), a competitive award program intended to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing by providing direct funding for the hiring of career law enforcement officers. Anticipated outcomes of the CHP program awards include increased engagement in community partnerships, implementation of projects that focus on prioritized crime issues impacting communities, implementation of changes to personnel and agency management in support of community policing, and increased capacity of agencies to implement comprehensive community policing plans that build trust and reduce crime. All local, state, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies that have primary law enforcement authority are eligible to apply.

Funding also includes $53 million for the School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP). This program provides funding to improve security at schools and on school grounds in the grantees’ jurisdictions through evidence-based school safety programs. Awards will be provided directly to eligible state, local, Tribal, and territorial partners. Recipients of SVPP funding must use funding for the benefit of K-12, primary, and secondary schools and students.

The Department’s Office of Justice Programs — through its Bureau of Justice Assistance and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention — also released almost $64.7 million in solicitations to support violence prevention and response efforts in schools through the STOP School Violence Act. More information about OJP’s grants can be found at https://www.ojp.gov/funding.       

There is also $15 million available for the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP) and $35 million for the COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force (AHTF) Program. The 2022 COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program is a competitive grant program that advances public safety by providing funds directly to state law enforcement agencies to investigate illicit activities related to the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine. AHTF is a competitive grant program that provides funding to state law enforcement agencies in states with high per capita levels of primary treatment admissions for heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, and other opioids. These funds will be used for drug enforcement including investigations and activities related to the distribution of heroin and other opioids or the unlawful diversion and distribution of prescription opioids.

Additional information on these programs, as well as information on how to apply, can be found at https://cops.usdoj.gov/grants.

The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation’s crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance. Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to organization for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. The COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and Tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 135,000 officers.

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Justice Department Announces New Rule to Modernize Firearm Definitions, Address ‘Ghost Gun’ Proliferation

The Department of Justice  announced on Monday, April 11 that it has submitted to the Federal Register the “Frame or Receiver” Final Rule, which modernizes the definition of a firearm. Once implemented, this rule will clarify that parts kits that are readily convertible to firearms are subject to the same regulations as traditional firearms. These regulatory updates will help curb the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are often assembled from kits, do not contain serial numbers, and are sold without background checks, making them difficult to trace and easy to acquire by criminals.

“One year ago, the Department committed to address the proliferation of ghost guns used in violent crimes,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “This rule will make it harder for criminals and other prohibited persons to obtain untraceable guns, will help ensure that law enforcement officers can retrieve the information they need to solve crimes, and will help reduce the number of untraceable firearms flooding our communities. I commend all our colleagues at the ATF who have worked tirelessly over the past 12 months to get this important rule finalized, and to do it in a way that respects the rights of law-abiding Americans.” 

The rule goes into effect 120 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, and once implemented, will address the proliferation of these un-serialized firearms in several ways. These include:

  1. To help keep guns from being sold to convicted felons and other prohibited purchasers, the rule makes clear that retailers must run background checks before selling kits that contain the parts necessary for someone to readily make a gun.
  2. To help law enforcement trace guns used in a crime, the rule modernizes the definition of frame or receiver, clarifying what must be marked with a serial number – including in easy-to-build firearm kits.
  3. To help reduce the number of unmarked and hard-to-trace “ghost guns,” the rule establishes requirements for federally licensed firearms dealers and gunsmiths to have a serial number added to 3D printed guns or other un-serialized firearms they take into inventory.
  4. To better support tracing efforts, the rule requires federal firearms licensees, including gun retailers, to retain records for the length of time they are licensed, thereby expanding records retention beyond the prior requirement of 20 years. Over the past decade, ATF has been unable to trace thousands of firearms – many reportedly used in homicides or other violent crimes – because the records had already been destroyed. These records will continue to belong to, and be maintained by, federal firearms licensees while they are in business.

As the final rule explains, from January 2016 to December 2021, ATF received approximately 45,240 reports of suspected privately made firearms recovered by law enforcement, including in 692 homicide or attempted homicide investigations. The chart below demonstrates the total annual numbers of suspected PMFs recovered by law enforcement over the past six years:

Bar Chart of Total Suspected PMFs by Calendar Year
 
The announcement marks one year since the Attorney General directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to issue a proposed rule within 30 days that would address the proliferation of unmarked firearms increasingly being used in crimes. On May 7, 2021, the Department of Justice issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, and during the 90-day open comment period, the ATF received more than 290,000 comments, the highest number of comments submitted to a proposed rule in ATF’s history. Today’s announcement is also the latest in a series of steps the department has taken to address violent crime and gun violence.
 
The final rule, as submitted to the Federal Register, can be viewed here: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/definition-frame-or-receiver
 
To learn more about the rulemaking process, please see: https://www.federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/the_rulemaking_process.pdfhe 
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Law Enforcement Operation Results in 25 Arrests for Drug-trafficking Conspiracy, Illegal Firearms

More Than 200 Officers Involved in Operation, Seized 27 Firearms, Illegal Drugs

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An investigation into an armed and violent drug-trafficking organization led to the arrests of 25 Kansas City, Missouri, area residents this week in an operation that involved more than 200 law enforcement officers from multiple local and federal agencies.

“This operation removed a large number of armed and dangerous drug dealers from the streets of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore. “After a nearly year-long investigation, our law enforcement partners worked together to take down a significant drug-trafficking organization and reduce the threat of violent crime in our neighborhoods.”

The operation resulted in 21 arrests on Wednesday, March 9, and four arrests on Tuesday, March 8. Officers seized 27 firearms, 1,877 rounds of ammunition, more than 11.1 kilograms of marijuana, 300.9 grams of cocaine, 278.91 grams of other illegal drugs, and $34,439 in cash. Additional seizures are still in the process of being logged into evidence.

More than 200 law enforcement officers were involved in the operation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the Independence, Mo., Police Department.  

“This operation sends a very clear message to those using firearms in crime, selling narcotics and terrorizing our neighborhoods,” said Frederic Winston, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Kansas City Field Division. “Law enforcement is working together at every level, to hold you accountable for the crimes you commit and the havoc you have brought to our community.”

“We know that violence and drug trafficking go hand in hand,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Miles Aley, supervisor of DEA operations in Western Missouri. “Working with our federal and local partners in operations like the one yesterday, DEA is one step closer toward reversing the devastating trends of overdoses and drug-related violence threatening Kansas City.”

Kevin C. Cokes, also known as “Big K” and “Uncle,” 60, Mercedez M. Gardner, also known as “Twin,” 36, November D. Gardner, also known as “October” and “Nuttie,” 23, Idella Gardner, also known as “Lupi,” 34, Delmar L. Hatcher, 51, Nathaniel B. Chapple, 24, Treandre R. Walker, 24, Hazel M. Berymon, 64, Carlton L. Burns, also known as “Pooder,” 24, Christopher J. Hicks-Berry, 35, Kyeir C. Theus, 35, Tony L. Davis, 52, Michael R. Parks, 62, Brian T. Boxly, 45, Parris J. Walker, 27, Jachobette J. Gardner, 42, Reginald L. Mitchem, 42, Eliot E. Cox, 32, Martell C. Cratch, 30, Anthony D. Stuckey, 66, Matthew Rogers, 59, Gloria Hutchinson, 37, Eddie L. Nicholson, Jr., also known as “Junior,” 54, Toneisha R. Blackmon, 29, and Shania N. Bailey, 23, all of Kansas City, Mo., and Deone D. Gardner, also known as “Twin,” 28, of Belton, Mo., were charged in an 86-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on March 1, 2022.

The federal indictment alleges that all 26 defendants have participated in a conspiracy since Jan. 28, 2019, to distribute crack cocaine, fentanyl, cocaine, and marijuana in Jackson County. That indictment was unsealed and made public yesterday following the arrests of most of the defendants.

According to court documents, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began investigating an armed drug trafficking organization operating primarily in east Kansas City, Mo., in April 2021. Members are known to sell marijuana, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, purported ecstasy pills, purported Percocet pills (believed to be counterfeit pills made with fentanyl), purported OxyContin pills, carry firearms, and commit acts of violence.

In a motion seeking his detention in federal custody without bond, the government alleges that Cokes is the main supplier for the organization. The motion cites several instances in which various defendants have been stopped by law enforcement officers, while they were in possession of illegal drugs and firearms. In some instances, defendants attempted to flee from officers.

Among the incidents cited in the government’s detention motion are shootings that occurred at 208 Westport Road in Kansas City, Mo., on April 17, 2021, and in the area of 24th Street and Van Brunt in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 26, 2019. Three victims were wounded in the early afternoon shooting at Westport, and witnesses described two shooters with AK-style weapons. Numerous shots were fired at the 24th Street shooting but no injuries were reported. A Nissan Pathfinder rental vehicle, which was parked at that location, was struck by gunfire.

In addition to the conspiracy, various defendants are charged in 16 drug-trafficking counts and 57 counts of illegally using a telephone to facilitate the conspiracy.

November Gardner and Deone Gardner were also charged together in one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of drug-trafficking crimes.

November Gardner was also charged in two counts of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and two counts of being a user of a controlled substance in possession of firearms.

Cokes and Walker were also charged together in one count of conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Deone Gardner and Theus were also charged in separate counts with being felons in possession of firearms.

November Gardner and Hicks-Berry were charged in one count of aiding and abetting each other in the destruction of a motor vehicle with the intent to endanger the safety of another person and with reckless disregard for the safety of human life. The indictment alleges they destroyed a parked Nissan Pathfinder rental vehicle on Nov. 26, 2021. They are also charged with one count of aiding and abetting each other to use a firearm in relation to that crime.

November Gardner and Burns are also charged together in one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Additional Defendants

Two additional defendants were arrested as part of the investigation, but charged separately in federal indictments that also were unsealed yesterday.

John E. Johnson, 29, of Kansas City, Mo., was charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. John Johnson allegedly was in possession of a Smith and Wesson .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun on Feb. 8, 2022.

Arron L. Hall, 42, of Kansas City, Mo., was charged with three counts of distributing methamphetamine and marijuana from May 5 to June 10, 2021.

The charges contained in these indictments are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, who Eddie L. Nicholson, Jr., also known as “Junior,” 54, se duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron H. Black and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie C. Bradshaw. They were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Independence, Mo., Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Johnson County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department and the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department.

KC Metro Strike Force

This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.

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National Institute of Justice Funded Research Amasses Details of a Half Century of United States Mass Shootings

The Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) today published an article discussing the NIJ-supported and publicly available Violence Project Database that identifies common traits of persons who engaged in mass shootings between 1966 and 2019.

During that time, mass shootings in the United States notably increased, with more than half occurring after 2000, and 20% occurring during the last five years of the study period. The death toll in mass shootings in the last decade has grown dramatically. In the 1970s, mass shootings claimed an average of eight lives per year. From 2010 to 2019, the average was 51 deaths per year.

“This study — one of the most extensive assessments of mass violence to date—reveals a deeply unsettling trend: more Americans are dying at the hands of mass shooters than at any point in recent history,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon. “This analysis paints a portrait of shooters, giving us a better idea of who commits these crimes and helping us detect the warning signals for these appalling acts of violence.”

The database draws information exclusively from open sources, such as social media sites and online newspapers, in order to build a broader understanding on the part of the public, the justice system and the research community of who mass shooters are and what motivates them. Funded by NIJ, it covers 172 mass public shooters and more than 150 psychosocial history variables, such as those individuals’ mental health history, past trauma, interest in past shootings and situational triggers.

Analysis of the database shows that persons who committed public mass shootings in the U.S. over the last half century were commonly troubled by personal trauma before the shooting, nearly always in a state of crisis at the time and, in most cases, engaged in leaking their plans before opening fire. Most were insiders of a targeted institution, such as an employee or student. Except for young school shooters who stole the guns from family members, most used legally obtained handguns in those shootings.                                  

The study includes a discussion of demographics, motivations, warning signs and other key findings. The article is available at “Public Mass Shootings: Database Amasses Details of a Half Century of U.S. Mass Shootings with Firearms, Generating Psychosocial Histories.” The research described in this article is based on the grantee report, A Multi-Level, Multi-Method Investigation of the Psychosocial Life Histories of Mass Shooters, September 2021, by Co-Principal Investigators Jillian Peterson and James Densley.

To receive notifications of new NIJ publications, register here.

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.          

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Justice Department Announces New Rule Implementing Federal Time Credits Program Established by the First Step Act

Today, Thursday January 13, the Department of Justice announced that a new rule has been submitted to the Federal Register implementing the Time Credits program required by the First Step Act for persons incarcerated in federal facilities who committed nonviolent offenses. As part of the implementation process, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has begun transferring eligible inmates out of BOP facilities and into either a supervised release program or into Residential Reentry Centers (RRCs) or home confinement (HC).

“The First Step Act, a critical piece of bipartisan legislation, promised a path to an early return home for eligible incarcerated people who invest their time and energy in programs that reduce recidivism,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today, the Department of Justice is doing its part to honor this promise, and is pleased to implement this important program.”

The First Step Act of 2018 provides eligible inmates the opportunity to earn 10 to 15 days of time credits for every 30 days of successful participation in Evidence Based Recidivism Reduction Programs and Productive Activities. The earned credits can be applied toward earlier placement in pre-release custody, such as RRCs and HC. In addition, at the BOP Director’s discretion, up to 12 months of credit can be applied toward Supervised Release. Inmates are eligible to earn Time Credits retroactively back to Dec. 21, 2018, the date the First Step Act was enacted, subject to BOP’s determination of eligibility.

Implementation will occur on a rolling basis, beginning with immediate releases for inmates whose Time Credits earned exceed their days remaining to serve, are less than 12 months from release, and have a Supervised Release term. Some of these transfers have already begun, and many more will take place in the weeks and months ahead as BOP calculates and applies time credits for eligible incarcerated individuals.

The final rule will be published by the Federal Register in the coming weeks and will take immediate effect. The rule, as it was submitted to the Federal Register, can be viewed here: https://www.bop.gov/inmates/fsa/docs/bop_fsa_rule.pdf

Please note: This is the text of the First Step Act Time Credits final rule as signed by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, but the official version of the final rule will be as it is published in the Federal Register.

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Justice Department Awards Almost $141 Million to Protect Children

The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced grant awards totaling nearly $141 million to help protect children from exploitation, trauma and abuse, while also funding improvements in the judicial system’s handling of child abuse and neglect cases. 

“The Justice Department has a solemn responsibility to help keep young people safe and out of harm’s way,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “These grants provide a wide variety of investigative and trauma-informed resources that will help law enforcement and child-serving professionals address child exploitation and abuse.”

These awards will provide law enforcement officials, child advocates and service providers the means to protect children from abuse and sexual exploitation. Funds will help develop, enhance and strengthen investigative and trauma-informed services to assist youth, while supporting robust training and technical assistance efforts to ensure the professionals working with these youth have the tools they need to be successful. 

“Protecting our children, securing their health and well-being, and addressing the trauma that too many young people have experienced are central to our mission at the Office of Justice Programs,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon for OJP. “These grants will give public safety professionals and those who serve our children and youth the tools they need to keep kids safe from harm and put them on the path to a safe and bright future.” 

Grants from OJP’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and National Institute of Justice (NIJ) are distributing millions of dollars to local, state and Tribal jurisdictions throughout the United States, territories and the District of Columbia. 

Below is a list of funded grants: 

Missing and Exploited Children 

  • Nearly $37 million funds the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), which enables the center’s operations and provides support, technical assistance and training to help law enforcement locate and recover missing and exploited children. 
  • Another $6 million is being awarded to NCMEC’s National Resource Center and Clearinghouse (NRCC) as part of an interagency agreement between OJJDP and the U.S. Secret Service. The NRCC helps prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation, and provides training and technical assistance to victims, their families and the professionals who serve them.  
  • About $4.4 million  supports the National AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program to help the AMBER Alert network improve law enforcement’s response to abducted children and encourage public participation in their recovery. 

Internet Crimes Against Children 

Victims of Child Abuse 

  • An additional $5 million in continuation funding is being awarded to four organizations via the VOCA Regional Children’s Advocacy Center program. This program supports regional centers that help to establish multidisciplinary teams, local programs and state chapter organizations that respond to child abuse and neglect, and that deliver training and technical assistance. 

Children Exposed to Violence and Child Protection  

  • More than $7 million is being awarded to communities under the Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence Program to develop or enhance support services for children exposed to violence and to implement community violence intervention strategies. Funding also supports training and technical assistance for program sites. 

Research 

Once the awards are made, information about the grantees selected under each solicitation can be found online at the OJP Grant Awards Page

OJP provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at  www.ojp.gov

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Justice Department Will Award $1.6 Billion to Reduce Violent Crime and Strengthen Communities

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the Department of Justice will award $1.6 billion in grant awards to support a wide range of programs designed to reduce violent crime and strengthen communities. The grants, which are being distributed to communities and organizations throughout the nation, are administered by the department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP).

“The Department of Justice is committed to supporting our state and local partners to combat crime across the country,” said Attorney General Garland. “This latest round of funding will deliver critical public safety resources, helping public safety professionals, victim service providers, local agencies and nonprofit organizations confront these serious challenges.” 

As law enforcement agencies address a range of public safety challenges – from violent crime to human trafficking to retail thefts – these awards will provide additional tools to advance violence intervention activities and evidence-based police and prosecution strategies. Funds are also intended to reduce recidivism, help people coming out of prisons and jails make the transition back into their communities and support responses to crises like drug overdoses and episodes involving mental illness. These grants build on earlier OJP investments, including more than $1.2 billion to support victim assistance and compensation programs, $187 million under the state formula Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants Program, more than $175 million in funding for victim services and public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, over $21 million in grants to address hate crimes and $17.5 million in Project Safe Neighborhoods grants. The COPS office also funded the hiring of over 1,000 officers in 183 police departments this year.

Some of the awards address the rise in gun violence and other violent crime in communities across America, in alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment in April. These grants help support the department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime, announced in May, and will advance President Biden’s Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety, released in June.

“These investments reflect a commitment that extends across this administration to invest in our neighborhoods, building bonds of civic trust and ending the cycle of trauma and violence that destroys too many lives and keeps far too many Americans from realizing their potential,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon of OJP.

A full list of awards, as they are made, will be available on the OJP Grant Awards page.

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

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Russian Man Sentenced for Providing ‘Bulletproof Hosting’ for Cybercriminals

A Russian man was sentenced December 1 for providing “bulletproof hosting” services, which were used by cybercriminals between 2009 to 2015 to distribute malware and attack financial institutions and victims throughout the United States.

Chief Judge Denise Page Hood of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan sentenced Aleksandr Grichishkin, 34, of Russia, to 60 months in prison for the scheme.

According to court documents, Grichishkin was a founder and leader of a bulletproof hosting organization that rented internet protocol (IP) addresses, servers, and domains to cybercriminal clients who employed this technical infrastructure to disseminate malware that allowed them to gain access to victims’ computers, form botnets, and steal banking credentials for use in frauds. Malware hosted by the organization included Zeus, SpyEye, Citadel, and the Blackhole Exploit Kit, which attacked U.S. companies and financial institutions between 2009 and 2015 and caused or attempted to cause millions of dollars in losses to U.S. victims.

Grichishkin also helped clients evade detection by law enforcement and continue their crimes uninterrupted by monitoring sites used to blocklist technical infrastructure used for crime, moving “flagged” content to new infrastructure, and registering all such infrastructure under false or stolen identities. On June 28 and Oct. 20, respectively, Chief Judge Hood sentenced two of Grichishkin’s co-conspirators, Pavel Stassi, 30, of Estonia, to 24 months in prison and Aleksandr Skorodumov, 33, of Lithuania, to 48 months in prison for their roles in the scheme.

According to court filings and statements made in connection with the defendants’ guilty pleas, Grichishkin was one of the organization’s founders and proprietors, and its day-to-day leader. In this role, he oversaw efforts to advertise the organization’s bulletproof hosting services in online cybercrime forums, set pricing for these services, negotiated and interfaced with clients seeking internet infrastructure to be used in spamming and malware operations, managed employee hiring and compensation, and supervised the systems administrators’ and other employees’ work. He also regularly instructed other members of the organization on how to “resolve” abuse notices by, among other methods, moving the affected clients’ data to new, “clean” domains and IP addresses.

Stassi, Skorodumov, Grichishkin, and a fourth defendant, Andrei Skvortsov, 34, of Russia, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization. Skvortsov is pending sentencing and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine his sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI investigated the case with critical assistance from law enforcement partners in Germany, Estonia, and the United Kingdom.

Senior Counsel Louisa K. Marion of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick E. Corbett of the Eastern District of Michigan prosecuted the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance.

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