ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCES $6.7 MILLION
CLEVELAND, OH - Attorney General John Ashcroft today announced awards totaling $6.7 million to improve public safety by addressing the successful re-integration of high-risk, serious offenders returning to their communities from imprisonment.
"President Bush understands that we can better protect our communities by promoting efforts to provide help and transitional services for returning offenders," Attorney General Ashcroft said. "The funds we are awarding not only will support programs to help offenders before they are released but will assist with necessary oversight and support services for offenders during the transition back into their communities."
The awards, provided through the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP), were available under OJP's Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative. A total of $6.7 million in awards, for up to $317,000, was provided to 20 jurisdictions. A list of the awards is available on the OJP Web site at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.
The Attorney General made the announcements during the first-ever National Conference on Offender Reentry, which is taking place Sept. 19-22 in Cleveland. The conference, titled "Coming Together, Strengthening Partnerships, and Planning for the Future" included more than 1,200 stakeholders in the reentry field who gathered to exchange the latest information on programs that address high-risk serious offenders returning to their communities. The conference was co-sponsored by DOJ and seven other federal agencies.
DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that almost 650,000 criminal offenders are released from prisons every year and returned to neighborhoods across the country. Two-thirds of them are rearrested within three years, often for committing violent crimes. The Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative has invested more than $120 million in designing and carrying out adult and juvenile reentry strategies in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. These strategies were developed collaboratively by state departments of corrections and 69 communities.
The U.S. Department of Justice launched SVORI in early 2002, in partnership with U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Social Security Administration. The 69 communities that received grants participate in the SVORI Initiative. Funding is used to develop, implement, enhance, and evaluate reentry strategies that will ensure the safety of the community and reduce serious, violent crime and recidivism. The initiative includes the development of model programs that first engage the offenders while incarcerated, and provide the necessary oversight and support services during the transition back into the community. The grants announced today will supplement efforts already underway in the 20 recipient communities.
"The ability of ex-offenders to lead crime-free lives is not guaranteed by the counseling or the education they receive while in prison," said Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels, who leads OJP. "They also must be guided as they pass through the prison gates, and supported long after they leave. That is why we are pooling our resources at the federal level to support these state and community public safety efforts."
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research and evaluation component of OJP, will discuss the preliminary findings of its "Multi-site Evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Re-entry Initiative" at the conference on Wednesday, Sept. 22. The evaluation, conducted by Research Triangle and the Urban Institute and funded by NIJ, sought to determine the effectiveness of the SVORI in accomplishing its goal of increasing public safety by reducing recidivism among the populations served by the program. The study and its findings will be available on the NIJ Web site at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij.
OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. It is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education, and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed program and the American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk.