Nearly 5,000 criminals have been jailed for an average of 14 years as a result of federally funded programs to crack down on career criminals, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration said yesterday.

The agency reported the results of the special programs to attack repeat offenders in 22 cities. LEAA is spending $11 million to sponsor those projects.

In general, the program involves setting up a special unit of local prosecutors to identify repeat offenders as they are arrested for new crimes. The prosecutors try to speed such cases through the courts and obtain quick convictions.And they seek stiff prison sentences.

LEAA began financing such programs about three years ago. The acting agency administrator, James Gregg, called the effort "one of LEAA's most worthwhile undertakings."

The agency, which receives 32 per cent - the biggest share - of the Justice Department's budget, has been charged with wasting money on poorly conceived and ineffective projects. Last Spring, it was reported that Justice was examining LEAA and considering whether to change or abolish it.

In the 22 repeat-offender programs, 5,107 defendants were identified as career criminals from May, 1975, through Aug. 1, 1977, LEAA said.

More than 4,700 of them were convicted of a variety of crimes including robbery, burglary, rape, murder, assault, kidnaping and larceny, LEAA said.

Their prison sentences "averaged 14.3 years."

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