The Justice Department was able to create or continue at least 8,000 jobs by spending $2.5 billion under the federal recovery act enacted last year, Jim Burch, acting director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, said yesterday. Burch said the estimate was preliminary and is sure to increase once the final totals are in. Speaking at the annual forum of the National Criminal Justice Association, which ended yesterday in Fort Myers, Fla., Burch said applications for the funds were “extremely competitive,” totalling about $4.6 billion, nearly twice the total available.
The police department in one jurisdiction Burch did not identify was able to start a 4-member homicide unit with money under the law that is investigating nine cases. In a panel discussion, Bill Scollon of the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs said the biggest challenge in spending money under the recovery law will be what to do when the funds run out within two years. Although the main purpose of the federal law is to encourage job creation, some jurisdictions didn’t spread the money among wa wide variety of uses. Virginia used 96 percent of its $24 million allocation for criminal justice to pay about 600 county sheriff’s employees whose jobs had been eliminated in a state budget crisis; the state has since restored the funds.