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Funding prisoner transport

Grants available to support security, technology, training and vehicle needs for prisoner transport


In this photo taken Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, Shasta County Deputy Sheriff Christine Gerring, left, removes the restraints from a prisoner after transporting convicted felons from the Shasta County Jail to the Deuel Vocational Institute near Tracy, Calif.

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Sheriff’s deputies, police officers and corrections officers transport prisoners thousands of times a day across the U.S. for a variety of purposes. This task can be one of the most dangerous for these officers, requiring that they be well trained, and have the tools necessary to safely and securely complete these trips.

Tools such as in-vehicle video surveillance systems, high-security locks, interoperable radios, GPS tracking systems, handheld contraband detection scanners and ruggedized restraints can be extremely costly. The vehicles themselves need replacement often as a result of abnormal mileage and wear and tear. Funding to support these purchases may be available through various grant programs with some ingenuity and “out-of-the-box” strategies.

Here are some funding options to consider.


Project Safe Neighborhoods: Grant funding is focused on the development of ongoing coordination, cooperation and partnerships of local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies to combat criminal gangs and firearms crimes. Many of the high-risk prison transports involve gang-affiliated inmates and those sentenced for gun offenses. Grants are coordinated through each U.S. Attorneys Office.

Emergency Management Performance Grant: These federal grant dollars are awarded to states (most often to the state emergency management agency) to assist other states, local, territorial and tribal governments in preparing for all-hazards events. The program is very training focused however, it allows for funding to be used to support equipment and supplies needed for the training exercises. Prisoner transportation to another secure facility during a community’s emergency evacuation could be a component of such an exercise.

Justice Assistance Grant (JAG): JAG is the U.S. Department of Justice’s largest source of grant funding for criminal justice purposes. Corrections/community corrections programs are one of the seven program areas of focus. Formula funding is awarded to state administering agencies who are required to sub-award a large portion of this funding to other state and local agencies. Some communities receive local JAG funding directly from DOJ based on their population and Part1 violent crimes.

Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP): It may be possible that one or more of the prisoners your agency transports may have been convicted of crimes involving domestic or international terrorism. HSGP provides funding to all states based on a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA)/Stakeholder Preparedness Review (SPR) of 32 core capabilities. The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), a component of HSPG, provides funding to 31 high-risk urban areas across the U.S.

Supporting Innovation: Field-Initiated Programs to Improve Officer and Public Safety Grant is a competitive grant opportunity for agencies who can develop and test unique ways to improve officer safety and save lives. Twelve grants will be awarded up to $500,000 each in FY2020.

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Grants may not be ones you think would support prisoner transport equipment. However, the Section 402 State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program has numerous focus areas, including reducing accidents and enhancing emergency services. States typically offer grants to local law enforcement agencies through a competitive application process.


Whether it be a bus, van, car or medical transport, your agency needs reliable and durable vehicles for your prisoner transports. Several federal and some corporate grant programs may support such purchases.

State Criminal Alien Assistance Program: This federal program provides payments to states and local governments who incur costs of incarcerating illegal aliens. Once the payments are received, the funds must be used for correctional purposes. One of the allowable use of funds is prisoner transportation. States and metropolitan cities with large prisoner populations have received payments of $1 million or more each year.

US Department of Energy: Many departments are replacing their aging vehicle fleet with alternative fuel or electric vehicles. This agency has several funding options to consider under its Clean Cities Coalition Network. Coalitions operate within each major metropolitan region across the country. Reach out to the Clean Cities coordinator nearest your area to discuss your project needs.

USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program: Agencies located in a rural area of the country may qualify for this USDA grant and loan assistance. It will support public safety services, including building new prisons, procuring prison vehicles and equipment for correctional facilities.

Auto and liability insurance companies such as State Farm and MetLife, and automobile manufacturers and rental car companies like Ford, Toyota and Hertz administer grant programs focusing on driving safety, law enforcement and community well-being.


Federal Training and Technical Assistance Opportunities: The DOJ and Department of Homeland Security offer many training and technical assistance (TTA) opportunities throughout the year. Although TTA is not a monetary grant awarded directly to your agency, these programs allow you to apply for customized training opportunities from experts across the country. Consider these options through the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the COPS Office and Homeland Security.

The previously mentioned Emergency Management Performance Grant and Justice Assistance Grants will also support training, particularly if it entails multi-agency or cross-agency training.


Speak to your state grant representatives about your program and inquire when application periods will open.

Fully review all grant application guidelines and structure your application exactly as outlined in the instructions.

Only include items in your budget that are allowable by the granting agency. Prisoner transport vehicles are not an allowable purchase under some programs like the Justice Assistance Grants but are an allowable expense under other programs.

The DOJ just released its FY2020 Program Plan of grant opportunities. This searchable listing will most likely grow throughout the next several months and dollar amounts could change pending the passing of the Federal FY2020 Budget.

The team at PoliceGrantsHelp is ready to help. Our grant assistance program includes several options including grant research, grant writing and grant application review.