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

Orientation of United States Attorneys
Monday, June 28, 2010
Washington, DC

       Thank you. It's nice to be here.

       Congratulations to all of you on your appointments.

       I'm very pleased to be having this dialogue with U.S. Attorneys. I consider it an opportunity to reinforce the message that U.S. Attorneys are vital partners of OJP.

       I'll begin with a quick overview of OJP's seven bureaus and program offices and then talk briefly about some of OJP's priorities and our work with U.S. Attorneys.

       First, our Bureau of Justice Assistance provides a wide range of criminal justice support to states, communities, and tribes. You're probably familiar with our Byrne/JAG program, which is administered by BJA. BJA also administers grants related to intellectual property and mortgage fraud and foreclosures. And BJA and our Office for Victims of Crime work together to manage the 38 task forces combating human trafficking that are in some of your districts.

       Our Bureau of Justice Statistics gathers and disseminates data on a wide range of criminal and juvenile justice issues. It also supports state and tribal criminal history record systems.

       The National Institute of Justice is DOJ's research, development, evaluation, and technology arm. Its work is central to improving knowledge of evidence-based approaches to crime, as well as our efforts to use DNA and forensics to solve crimes.

       Our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention works to prevent and reduce juvenile delinquency. It also funds child and youth protection efforts.

       Our Office for Victims of Crime supports victim assistance and compensation programs, and it provides funding for over 170 victim-witness coordinator positions in U.S. Attorneys' offices.

       The Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking, or SMART, works with states, tribes, and communities to improve the management of sex offenders.

       And our Community Capacity Development Office works on neighborhood safety and revitalization efforts, including Weed and Seed.

       Some of you may know that the President's 2011 budget proposes to replace Weed and Seed with an initiative called the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program, or BCJI. BCJI would put greater focus on place-based and evidence-based practices. It would also allow for greater flexibility to support innovative partnerships with other federal, state, and local agencies.

       In some sites, the BCJI program will work hand in hand with the Department of Education's Promise Neighborhoods. In others, we'll partner with HUD's Choice Neighborhoods programs. BCJI will add the public safety element to these initiatives.

       U.S. Attorneys would be part of an anticipated advisory committee for the new program. Your leadership in encouraging partnerships and cooperation would be central.

       The amount proposed for BCJI is significantly higher - $40 million, which is double the amount we're making available for Weed and Seed this year.

       In the meantime, our Community Capacity Development Office is in the process of awarding 112 continuation Weed and Seed grants. Current sites will be able to use these funds until they're expended. They'll also have the opportunity to revise their current program and apply for the new program, which will be competitive.

       Another program that U.S. Attorneys and OJP have partnered closely together on is Project Safe Neighborhoods.

       PSN not included in President's 2011 budget, but PSN priority areas - gangs, guns, and violent crime - are addressed in several programs outlined in the budget. For example, $10 million is proposed for the Smart Policing program, which will allow jurisdictions to tailor strategies based on analysis of their own crime problems. $12 million would go toward a program to support evidence-based strategies to address gang violence. And $25 million would go toward a Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative.

       PSN strategies could be part of these programs. It'll be important that districts think about how to sustain their strategies beyond this year.

       More immediately, BJA recently posted this year's PSN solicitation. Applications were due June 10th. You can go to our Web site - ojp.gov - to see the district-by-district allocations.

       OJP is working closely with EOUSA as part of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, specifically through the Task Force's Victims' Rights Committee. One of the main areas of focus is the recovery of restitution for fraud victims, which is important because the Crime Victims' Rights Act provides that victims have the right to full and timely restitution. Also, the AG Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance require that DOJ components work together to ensure restitution.

       OJP is also working with EOUSA and the Committee on a model monetary and asset recovery plan, which includes promising practices in investigation, prosecution, and collection. The plan reinforces the need to consider restitution in the early stages of a case, not just during sentencing. The Committee had its most recent meeting on June 8th, and there was a discussion on the need to have asset management plans in each district. Marshall [Jarrett] reported on the Committee's efforts at the full Task Force meeting last Thursday.

       BJA is part of DOJ's Intellectual Property Task Force, and I'm co-chairing a working group on "Education and Outreach." The Administration launched its strategic plan on IP enforcement last week. BJA recently solicited applications for funding under the Intellectual Property Enforcement Program. It will award up to $4 million in competitive grants to states, locals, and tribes. OJP is also working with the National White Collar Crime Center to host an IP Crime Enforcement Outreach Summit, which is scheduled for September 30th in Pasadena. We'll be working with the U.S. Attorney's Office there to flesh out an agenda.

       I mentioned the human trafficking task forces earlier. I'll just add that BJA and OVC posted a joint solicitation for the new task forces. I urge you to encourage agencies in your jurisdictions to apply. The solicitation is on our Web site at ojp.gov. It closes July 27th.

       We have a committee of representatives from across OJP working with EOUSA, the Law Enforcement Coordinators, the COPS Office, and the Office on Violence Against Women to improve coordination.

       The most recent conference call was held at the end of April. The next call is scheduled for August 10th. I encourage you to take advantage of these calls to identify issues for discussion, to raise questions, and to provide input. Your AUSAs are invited to participate, as well as your LECs.

       BJA is working on a "Secure Communities" portal, which will give the LECs a closed forum to communicate with BJA staff.

       We're also finalizing the process for allowing U.S. Attorneys' Offices to provide input into the grant application process. We'll be providing electronic notification of applications when they move to the peer review stage. In theory, this would give USAOs an opportunity to flag whether there are any investigations targeting the applicant.

       The group met in March to explore IT strategies for providing USAOs' input. The group recommended having a weekly e-mail message sent to USAOs that would list all OJP and OVW grant applications that move into peer review during that week. We would sort out the listing by solicitation and by district.

       Another step the group proposed - and that we'll be adopting - is assigning one or two staff in every U.S. Attorney's Office to have "read only" access to the Grant Management System. This would allow them to review the full text of applications.

       Among our next steps, EOUSA will get us an e-mail address for each district and names of those who'll need GMS access, and we're working with EOUSA to develop draft protocols and guidelines that describe what type of input USAO will be able to provide in the grant process.

       I touched earlier on a few items in the President's budget for OJP in 2011. You may be interested in hearing what else is being proposed:

  • $519 million for Byrne/JAG, which is the same as this year.
  • A three percent, $55.8 million set-aside for research.
  • $1 million for a Crime Solutions Resource Center, or online "what works" clearinghouse, and $6 million for a Help Desk and Diagnostic Center to help jurisdictions develop evidence-based strategies.
  • $10 million for a Smart Probation program that will focus on swift and certain sanctions.
  • $10 million for a Stopping Crime, Block by Block program. This will include funding for demonstration field experiments, action research, and basic research.
  • $37 million for the Attorney General's Children Exposed to Violence Initiative. This will include funding for demonstration projects and seed grants, training and technical assistance, and research and evaluation. The Attorney General has already announced $5 million for this initiative this year.
  • $100 million again for reentry programs under the Second Chance Act. This will include funding for demonstration projects, reentry courts, evaluation, and research.
  • $57 million for problem-solving courts. This program consolidates the drug court and mental health court programs.
  • $6 million for the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Grants Program. This includes support for state, local, and tribal agencies to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
  • $20 million to support Adam Walsh Act implementation.
  • $13 million for a National Juvenile Delinquency Court Improvement Program.
  • $5 million for a program called, Ensuring Fairness and Justice in Criminal Justice System, which would involve "front end" justice system agencies in reform through community prosecution; training of judges, prosecutors, and defenders; and justice reinvestment.
  • And a seven percent, $139.5 million tribal set-aside.

       I've hit the high points in our current work with U.S. Attorneys' Offices. I'm interested in your feedback on how we can move forward to strengthen collaboration.


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