Despite a study earlier this year that the fears of Internet predation against kids were overblown, the U.S. Department of Justice is offering $50 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as the stimulus program, for Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) program initiatives.
The programs will be administered by the Department's Office of Justice Programs' (OJP) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the Department of Justice said. The ICAC program supports a national network of 59 coordinated task forces, representing more than 2,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies engaged in proactive investigations, forensic examinations, and criminal prosecutions.
According to the DOJ, during the past two years, the ICAC task forces have conducted more than 24,371 forensic examinations, identified nearly 1,439 children who were victims of some form of abuse or neglect, and arrested 5,450 individuals. Of the total arrests, 2,073 resulted in the defendant accepting a plea agreement.
The due date for applying for funding under this announcement is 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on April 8, 2009. However, grants are only available to those state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies that are currently receiving funds under the ICAC Task Force Program, and they needed to register by March 16.
The program includes all forms of sexual exploitation of children (SEC) and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) facilitated by technology. These offenses include, but are not limited to, trafficking of children for sexual purposes, such as prostitution, sex tourism, mail-order-bride trade and early marriage, stripping, performing in sexual venues (e.g., peep shows), the manufacture, distribution, and possession of child pornography; and online enticement of children by sexual predators, the DOJ said.
Applicants must explain how they will help state and local law enforcement agencies improve effectiveness in responding to online enticement of children by sexual predators, child exploitation, and child obscenity and pornography cases. Most programs will take 12 to 24 months but can take up to 48 months.
A large part of the application description lists the various ways that groups being awarded grants must track how they spent the money, with results being posted to an unspecified website, and with performance objectives ranging from the number of jobs increased, the percent increase in arrests, number of investigations, number of prosecutions, percent increase in forensic examinations and technical assistance sessions, and the number of participating agencies.
None of the objectives include "reduction in number of children affected" or, in fact, anything about children at all.