Dec 13 2009

Shelby Announces Funding for West Alabama Commerce, Justice, and Science Projects

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), announced conference committee approval of the fiscal year 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill.  The legislation includes funding for CJS projects in Alabama.  Following today’s action by the Senate, the bill will go to the President for his signature.

“This legislation includes a number of important projects in Alabama and across the nation,” said Shelby.  “This bill reiterates our commitment to funding these projects and advancing important nationwide initiatives.”
                                                                       
The Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Departments of Commerce (DOC) and Justice (DOJ), among others. 
                                   
Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Teaching and Research Corridor - $30 Million

The University of Alabama will use this funding to complete the Science and Engineering Corridor.  Two of the four buildings planned have already been constructed.  Two additional interdisciplinary science and engineering buildings will also be constructed to complete the corridor.

“We must attract young students to math, science and engineering to effectively compete in the global economy,” said Shelby.  “To remain at the cutting-edge of innovation, we need to act now to reach the untapped potential within our own borders in the ever-increasingly important fields of math, science, and engineering.  If we do not make the right investments now, it will cost us much more later, both fiscally and strategically.”

Cooperative Institute and Research Center for Southeast Weather and Hydrology - $14 Million

Under the direction of the NOAA, this institute will be established in cooperation with southeastern universities to coordinate a joint research effort to study southeast weather and hydrology.  Located at the University of Alabama, the institute will serve as a means of linking southeastern universities, government and industry capabilities and assets into an operational, systematic program to address issues related to weather unique to the southeast. 

“While the Southeastern United States experiences some of the most severe weather in the nation, unlike other regions, the Southeast does not possess the surveillance, research,  and forecasting assets to study and predict these events,” said Shelby.  “The Cooperative Institute and Research Center for Southeast Weather and Hydrology will begin to develop and acquire the technology and equipment needed to study storms, improve rainfall estimates and provide citizens of the Southeast with state-of-the-art weather research and prediction capabilities.”

Diagnostic Sensing for Predictive Maintenance of Aerospace Vehicles - $500,000

The University of Alabama will establish an institute, composed of an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students from the Colleges of Engineering and Commerce and Business Administration, to design and build sensors and study material durability issues that result in structural failures in aerospace vehicles, such as unmanned aerial vehicles and reusable launch vehicles.  The overarching goal is to enable predictive, or condition-based, maintenance.  Predictive maintenance involves establishing maintenance actions and schedules based on real-time monitoring of the status of the health of a system or structure.  It improves safety by predicting future failures while simultaneously saving significant cost through elimination of the need for unnecessary overhaul and replacement of components. 

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Programs - $424 Million

The following grant will provide youth programs the resources necessary to respond to juvenile delinquency and support communities in their efforts to develop and implement prevention and intervention programs. The following area projects were included in the Senate bill:

• University of Alabama After School Delinquency Prevention Program - $150,000

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program - $519 Million

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program provides funding for law enforcement to implement programs that prevent and control crime based on their own needs.  The following projects were included in the Senate bill:

• Alabama Department of Forensic Science - $1.4 Million
• Simon Wiesenthal Center - $1 Million
• The University of Alabama Domestic Violence Law Clinic - $300,000

“In many of my 67 county visits each year, district attorneys and law enforcement officers express the importance of the Byrne grants,” said Shelby. “This reiterates my strong belief that the individuals serving on the front lines of our communities each day know best what their departments need to successfully do their jobs.  Providing funds directly to our law enforcement officers allows them to control crime based on their own needs and is one of the best ways we can support our crime fighters.”

The following programs in Alabama are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010:

Zerometh-Alabama’s Methamphetamine Campaign - $1 Million

Nationwide, methamphetamine usage is on the rise.  Its use continues to poison our nation and the drug knows no boundaries of age, gender, class or race.  The production of methamphetamine is particularly detrimental to communities, as the materials used to create the drugs are both extremely dangerous and easily obtained.

“Alabama’s Zerometh Campaign works to inform the public about the dangers of using meth,” said Shelby.  “Our local law enforcement officers are working overtime to target drug hot spots and to remove and dispose of hazardous materials at clandestine methamphetamine labs. We must do all we can to eliminate this horrific drug from our communities.”

Operation Swordphish – Alabama Department of Public Safety - $1 Million

Last year there were approximately 6,900 known cybercrimes committed in Alabama which were not prosecuted because they did not meet the federal threshold. Many of these crimes were a result of phishing, the act of attempting to fraudulently acquire through deception sensitive personal information such as passwords and credit card details by assuming another's identity in an official-looking electronic communication. Operation Swordphish is a joint effort between the Alabama Department of Public Safety, UAB, and the Alabama District Attorneys Association to gather information, analyze, investigate and prosecute financial cyber crimes and electronic mail based cyber crimes in Alabama and beyond. Operation Swordphish will also work with state and local government and industry to detect network vulnerabilities and address them. The goal of this project is to become a model for cooperative efforts to combat financial crime across the country.

“Each year, consumers and their financial institutions lose billions of dollars to criminals running phishing and cyber fraud operations both in the United States and abroad,” said Shelby.  “Operation Swordphish is a great example of combining the knowledge within our educational institutions and the capabilities of the law enforcement community to address a global problem."

Bulletproof Vest Program - $30 Million

This program helps local jurisdictions purchase armor vests for use by law enforcement officers.

“Each day our state and local law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities,” said Shelby.  “Regardless of a community’s financial status, we must ensure that our law enforcement officers have the equipment necessary to protect themselves.  This funding will make certain that our law enforcement officers are protected while they are on the front lines of local communities protecting our citizens.”

Drug Courts - $45 Million

Drug courts provide a specialized process within the existing judicial system to address non-violent drug related cases.   Their mission is to stop the abuse of drugs and alcohol along with the related criminal activity.  Drug courts can help with prison overcrowding by keeping convicted offenders from entering the system as well as reducing the revolving door of crimes and drugs by providing treatment to drug-addicted criminal offenders.

“Our nation’s drug courts are instrumental in the effort to remove drug-addicted criminal offenders from our streets and out of our communities,” said Shelby. 

DNA Initiative and Forensic Sciences Funding - $186 Million

• $151 Million for Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Initiative
• $35 Million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Grants

Our nation’s forensic labs have a critical need to reduce backlogs in all areas, particularly in DNA.  This funding will help meet that need while providing the flexibility required for the men and women in the labs to determine their own priorities.

“Significant funding for forensic sciences as a whole is included in our bill,” said Shelby.  “Also included is $35 million for the Paul Coverdell Forensics Grants. State and local forensics labs use Coverdell grants to address a variety of needs within the forensic sciences, including DNA analysis.  The bill provides significant flexibility to allow state lab directors to use Coverdell dollars to address the pressing needs of their individual labs and make important decisions regarding the best use of federal resources, including DNA backlog reduction.”

FBI Intellectual Property Enforcement - $19 Million

This funding will allow the FBI to hire additional agents dedicated solely to intellectual property and computer hacking cases.

“The increase in intellectual property theft by criminals seriously undermines the growth of our economy and discourages innovation,” said Shelby.  “These critical funds will be used to hire FBI agents whose sole duty will be to investigate and catch these criminals.  These funds will provide the bureau with the resources necessary to seriously curtail this criminal activity.”

FBI Mortgage Fraud – $25.4 Million

This funding will support the FBI’s request for 50 additional agents for mortgage fraud investigations and reinforce the Bureau’s white-collar crime investigative capabilities.
 
“Increasing the FBI’s resources to investigate and prosecute financial crimes will help ensure that financial criminals are caught and brought to justice,” said Shelby. “I believe this is a critical step toward restoring trust in our financial markets.”

Adam Walsh Child Protection Funding

• $36.9 Million for U.S. Attorneys to carry out the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act concerning the prosecution of offenses relating to the sexual exploitation of children.

• $27.5 Million for U.S. Marshals Adam Walsh enforcement activities, to hire Deputy Marshals to track down sexual predators, and to help establish the National Sex Offender Targeting Center which improves the information technology backbone and reinforce USMS’s infrastructure so Deputy Marshals have timely, accurate investigative information to track down and arrest those who prey on our nation’s children.

“Child predators who live in our neighborhoods, work in our schools and lurk on playgrounds across this country are every bit as dangerous to the American way of life as any terrorist,” said Shelby.  “Our U.S. Marshals must have the funding necessary to effectively hunt them down and bring them to justice.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation Innocent Images Program - $52.7 Million

These funds will provide enhanced capabilities for the Innocent Images Internet Crimes Against Children program and the Innocence Lost program which focus on the transportation of children for prostitution and other crimes. 

“I have repeatedly said that if someone was able to buy heroin over the internet with their credit card, people would be appalled,” said Shelby.  “The acts of child pornography and child prostitution are much worse and we must do everything we can to stop these horrendous actions.”

Innocence Lost Initiative - $5 Million 

This effort by the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children combines the efforts of these entities to address the growing problem of domestic sex trafficking of children in the United States. These efforts have rescued over 575 children and led to the conviction of more than 300 associated with this horrible industry.  This funding will be used to hire additional agents for this initiative.

“Sex trafficking of children is one of the most horrific industries I can imagine,” said Shelby.  “Our law enforcement agencies must have the tools and resources necessary to successfully rescue any child that is abducted for this terrible crime.”

Missing and Exploited Children Programs - $70 Million

“Crimes against children are a plague on our society and we must continue to work to eradicate them.  Continued investment of substantial resources in these programs is critical to ensure the safety of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens - children.”

Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program - $12 Million

Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program is a new national initiative that will provide grants to state and local governments to locate, arrest and prosecute sexual predators.  These grants, distributed by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, will enable state and local law enforcement entities to specifically focus on sexual predators who fail to register, sex offenders who prey upon children, and those who engage in child sexual exploitation.  

“It is our obligation to protect our children against child sexual exploitation,” said Shelby.  “We must provide the necessary resources to protect our most vulnerable citizens – children - so they will not fall victim to this despicable act.  I have long supported efforts to protect our children and strongly believe that this funding will go a long way to aid in the eradication of these horrible crimes.”