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Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

National Summit on Justice Reinvestment
January 27, 2010
Washington, DC

       Thank you, Assemblyman Aubry. It's great to be here.

       And I want to acknowledge the speakers here with me this morning - Congressman Wolf, Congressman Mollohan, Congressman Schiff, and Senator Whitehouse. The Department of Justice and the Office of Justice Programs congratulate you on your support of Justice Reinvestment, and your leadership here today.

       Let me also thank Assemblyman Aubry, Judge Cobb, and Mark Earley for their important role in this effort.

       I'm thrilled at the level of interest and support that Justice Reinvestment has gotten from leaders like these - and from all of you. This initiative is one that the Attorney General is actually following very closely. And Eric Holder was really unhappy he couldn't be here today, but he took the time to prepare a video message - the next best thing - and I'd like to play that for you now.

       I'd like to echo the Attorney General's thanks to the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the Pew Center on the States, and the Public Welfare Foundation. They all organized this meeting and have been so pivotal in getting this Justice Reinvestment effort off the ground! I'd also like to thank the Urban Institute for its partnership and for working to bring counties and other local jurisdictions into the discussions.

       You may have noticed a theme in the Attorney General's remarks - and that's an emphasis on smart approaches to crime and sentencing.

       We've entered an era in which thoughtful corrections policies based on sound data have become, not just preferable, but - I think - imperative. The idea of Justice Reinvestment is to explore what's sustainable given current economic realities - and also, what works. This doesn't mean softening up on crime. But it does mean making sure that tough approaches are leavened with wisdom, foresight, and deliberation. Smart on crime and tough on crime are not mutually exclusive.

       But Justice Reinvestment isn't just about saving money; it's about really thinking through how to deal with offenders in a way that's not reflexively punitive, but constructive for all of society. It's also about helping communities play the supportive role they should be playing in offender reentry.

       Justice Reinvestment helps states, counties, and local jurisdictions make informed decisions about how to invest scarce resources with an eye toward reducing recidivism and enhancing public safety. And I think this is exactly the kind of role the federal government should be playing: Helping our state and local partners identify their own needs - and giving them the necessary support to meet those needs.

       The Office of Justice Programs is working to help give our partners in the field the knowledge and the tools they need to put evidence-based, smart-on-crime approaches into practice. We've undertaken an agency-wide effort called the Evidence Integration Initiative to distill and disseminate information about what works in reducing and preventing crime. I see Justice Reinvestment as a big part of that.

       I'm very pleased that OJP has been able to play a central role in this effort - in fact, I view it as one of my highest priorities. And I want to thank Jim Burch and his staff at BJA for leading our involvement.

       I hope that this summit will build on the good work that so many states and communities are already doing - work that you are helping to lead. This is an opportunity to pool ideas - to learn what's working in other jurisdictions and to explore together how we can make Justice Reinvestment central to our discussions going forward about crime and corrections.

       So thank you all for your time, and best wishes for a productive summit.

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