From the site: What's Wrong With the Drug War?


A Recent Book that covers Byrne grants and a variety of legal trends that are devastating black Americans is "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander.


The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year to local and state crime prevention initiatives. In recent years the program has come under scrutiny for its role in perpetuating racial disparities, police corruption, and civil rights abuses. This is especially true when it comes to the program's funding of hundreds of regional anti-drug task forces across the country. These task forces, which lack oversight and are prone to corruption, are at the center of some of our country's most horrific law enforcement scandals. The program has also been criticized for wasting taxpayer money and failing to reduce crime.

The most notorious Bryne-funded scandal occurred in Tulia, Texas where dozens of African American residents (representing 16 percent of the town's black population) were arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to decades in prison, even though the only evidence against them was the uncorroborated testimony of one white undercover officer with a history of lying and racism. The undercover officer worked alone, and had no audiotapes, video surveillance, or eyewitnesses to collaborate his allegations. Suspicions eventually arose after two of the defendants accused were able to produce firm evidence showing they were out of state or at work at the time of the alleged drug buys. Texas Governor Rick Perry eventually pardoned the Tulia defendants (after four years of imprisonment), but these kinds of scandals continue to plague the Byrne grant program.

A 2002 report by the ACLU of Texas identified seventeen scandals involving Byrne-funded anti-drug task forces in Texas, including cases of falsifying government records, witness tampering, fabricating evidence, false imprisonment, stealing drugs from evidence lockers, selling drugs to children, large-scale racial profiling, sexual harassment, and other abuses of official capacity.  Recent scandals in other states include the misuse of millions of dollars in federal grant money in Kentucky and Massachusetts, false convictions based on police perjury in Missouri, and making deals with drug offenders to drop or lower their charges in exchange for money or vehicles in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Four leading conservative groups have issued a sign-on letter urging Congress to support President Bush's proposal to completely eliminate the Byrne grant program, because the program "has proved to be an ineffective and inefficient use of resources". (American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens against Government Waste, and National Taxpayers Union).

Numerous criminal justice reform and civil rights groups have issued a sign-on letter urging Congress to overhaul the program because it has "done more harm than good", including the National Black Police Association, ACLU, Brennan Center for Justice, Justice Policy Institute, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Open Society Policy Center and the Drug Policy Alliance. 

Byrne-related scandals have grown so prolific that the Texas legislature recently passed several reforms in response to them, including outlawing racial profiling and changing Texas law to prohibit people from being convicted of drug offenses based solely on the word of an undercover informant. The Criminal Jurisprudence Committee of the Texas House of Representatives issued a report last year recommending all of the state's federally funded anti-drug task forces be abolished because they are inherently prone to corruption. The Committee reported, "Continuing to sanction task force operations as stand-alone law enforcement entities - with widespread authority to operate at will across multiple jurisdictional lines - should not continue. The current approach violates practically every sound principle of police oversight and accountability applicable to narcotics interdiction."