The Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive (VOI/TIS) Grant Program, created under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, assists the states in their efforts to remove violent offenders from the community and encourages states to implement TIS laws that require violent offenders to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence imposed. The Office of Justice Programs, Corrections Program Office, administers the grant program and awards funds to states as formula grants to build or expand correctional facilities and jails that will increase or free-up secure confinement space for persons convicted of violent crimes. Half of the funds are available for Violent Offender Incarceration Grants (VOI) and half for Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Grants (TIS). The grants have various levels of eligibility primarily based on incarcerating violent offenders and implementing TIS laws. Certain other program and administrative requirements must also be met. The states must apply annually for the grant funds. From fiscal year 1996 through fiscal year 1999, approximately $1.9 billion has been available for awards to the states under the grant program. Fiscal year 2000 is the final year for awards. The states may spend the grant funds through 2004.

From May 4, 1997, through March 31, 1999, we conducted 25 on-site state reviews and issued 25 reports that evaluated the progress of each state in implementing and complying with the requirements of the VOI/TIS Grant Program. The specific objectives of our reviews were to determine whether the states were implementing TIS laws, planning to follow the TIS laws after the grant program ends, increasing bed space for violent offenders, and complying with other financial and programmatic requirements of the grant. To accomplish these objectives, we examined four areas: application information, TIS and state correctional strategies, grant construction projects, and administrative and financial controls.

Based on our reviews of 25 states, we found that the states have implemented and, in most cases, complied with the requirements of the VOI/TIS Grant Program.

We also suggested that the Office of Justice Programs provide continued monitoring of the states’ correctional strategies, practice of leasing beds for offenders, and matching funds.