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(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) helped pass an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill that establishes the Northern Border Prosecution Initiative to protect Washington state's northern border. The Northern Border Prosecution Initiative will help pay for jail costs, prosecutors and judges. The amendment passed today appropriates $20 million for the program.

"Our northern border communities are being crushed by the costs of policing and prosecuting border-related crimes," said Senator Murray. "This amendment provides the support we owe northern border communities and will help pay for the jail space, prosecutors and judges they need. This will also provide funding to prosecute fugitives, thwart drug trafficking and jail criminals refused entry into Canada."

“We already reimburse southern border communities for prosecution costs; There is no reason why our northern border communities should get left behind,” said Cantwell.  “Local governments are bearing far too much of America’s border security burden.  Whatcom county prosecutes 85 to 90 percent of all drug cases initiated by federal law enforcement agencies.  In 2004 alone, this cost the county more than $2.5 million.  Law enforcement officers all along our 4,000-mile northern border work non-stop with already sparse budgets to keep our entire country safe and secure.  We need to help them cover these costs.”

Senator Murray and Cantwell's amendment provides funds to cities and counties for the costs they incur when they prosecute crimes that the U.S. Attorney office declines to prosecute. 

The funding in the initiative is distributed by a formula payment based on the number of days from the time that the U.S. Attorneys office declines to take a case until the day that the county/city resolves the case. 

The Northern Border Prosecutor Initiative pays for jails, judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.