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Remarks of Mary Lou Leary, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

American Probation and Parole Association
Annual Training Institute
Plenary Session with OJP
Monday, August 16, 2010
Washington, DC

       Thanks so much, Barbara [Broderick]. I know you and Carl [Wicklund] - and your whole team - have put so much time into planning a training institute that is both practical and enriching.

       The Justice Department is thrilled to play such a major role in this year's annual training, and we are committed to continuing to foster our longstanding relationship.

       Everyone at the Justice Department is fully aware of the essential importance of community corrections to the future of our criminal and juvenile justice systems. No one - I can assure you - better understands your vital role than Attorney General Eric Holder.

       As a former judge and U.S. Attorney, Attorney General Holder has been on the front lines. He truly understands the challenges you face, and he knows that working in probation and parole is not easy.

       His passion for a fair and accessible justice system is rivaled only by his compassion for the individuals who work every day to bring justice to our communities. Time and again, he has made it clear that working with the field - and for the field - is a priority in this Justice Department.

       While he couldn't be with us in person today, he wanted to deliver a personal message to all of you. Here, via video, is Attorney General Eric Holder.

       I can't think of a better way to start this session than with such a strong show of support from the Attorney General. I'd like to echo his sentiments - both in terms of the importance of APPA's leadership and the critical role of probation and parole professionals in the future of our criminal and juvenile justice systems.

       Many of you are familiar with the Office of Justice Programs, or OJP. I hope today's plenary session will provide a fuller picture of what we do, why we do it, and why it matters for you.

       Today, I'm pleased to have with me leaders from all seven OJP bureau and program offices. In just a few moments, they will give you a quick overview of some of their specific efforts related to community corrections. They are going to address the present, so I'd like to take my time to try and look into the future of community corrections.

       You can't determine what the future might look like without fully comprehending the past, and most of you know community corrections' past all too well. Not so long ago, everyone wanted to be tough on crime - the tougher the better.

       We told offenders that we had no place for them in our society. We were going to "Trail 'em, Nail 'em, and Jail 'em." We were determined to "Lock them up and throw away the key." And, if they should make three strikes, they were certainly out.

       While it is infinitely more challenging - in terms of both policy and practice - being smart on crime is a lot more effective than being tough on crime. And the two are not mutually exclusive. Today, for financial and philosophical reasons alike, states across the nation are changing their approaches to criminal justice and corrections. And, most are turning to community corrections as part of the solution.

       States and jurisdictions are now acknowledging what you have known all along: probation and parole officers do not just enforce the law, they build relationships, and through those relationships they - you - produce behavioral change and create safer and stronger communities.

       So, with the past and its tough slogans behind us, what do we want the future of community corrections to look like? By looking at a few successful approaches, I think we can glimpse the future. Justice Reinvestment is one such approach.

       Our Bureau of Justice Assistance, or BJA - in collaboration with the Council of State Governments - launched the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in 2006. Justice reinvestment is a comprehensive process that involves analyzing criminal justice trends, developing policies that generate savings and increase public safety, reinvesting those savings in high-risk communities, and measuring the impact of that reinvestment. This is a decisive shift in the way we can use corrections dollars, and it has become - above all else - a fiscal imperative.

       Through Justice Reinvestment, jurisdictions can save hundreds of millions in corrections costs without jeopardizing community safety - and while holding offenders accountable. In Fiscal Year 2010, BJA will award nearly $10 million to support the expansion of Justice Reinvestment in additional states and local jurisdictions. This funding includes nearly $1 million for coordination and assessment. Of the remaining amount, almost $9 million will support national-scope organizations - and they will provide 50 percent of these funds directly to jurisdictions for policy and program implementation.

       We have to rethink our approaches to corrections spending across the board, and we must focus more on reentry. Probation and parole officers are essential to successful reentry efforts. If you are asked only to supervise former offenders to make sure they don't violate the conditions of their probation or parole, your potential is severely limited. If you are fully involved in reentry, you can help former offenders become contributing members of their communities again. You are a force for positive change, and we must tap into that force in devising reentry initiatives.

       Under the Second Chance Act, BJA and our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, or OJJDP, are providing support for reentry programs ranging from substance abuse treatment to mentoring to employment assistance. In Fiscal Year 2010, Second Chance Act funding was increased to $100 million - up from $25 million in 2009.

       This funding allowed for several new programs, including one that will provide $7.5 million for family-based substance abuse treatment for offenders who have minor children. Offenders who return to shattered families are much less likely to succeed, so we need to help entire families recover from drug and alcohol abuse. Because substance abuse so often co-occurs with mental health disorders, the Act is also providing $13 million to create or expand coordinated treatment programs for re-entering offenders.

       We are also working with the Council of State Governments - and partners like APPA - to continue to enhance the National Reentry Resource Center, an online toolbox that provides education, training, and technical assistance to professionals in the field, as well as information on services for former offenders. Last year, we provided $2.2 million to support this essential resource, and in 2010, we will provide an additional $4.5 million.

       These investments will have an impact well into the future, and are being supplemented by new initiatives. The President's Fiscal Year 2011 budget request includes $10 million for a Smart Probation initiative.

       We recognize that for far too long, we have given too few resources and too little attention to probation and parole. If approved by Congress, this funding will provide direct support to improve probation systems. Smart Probation also seeks to develop knowledge about the essential elements of effective probation programs and to disseminate that knowledge. And, it will promote the systematic use of approaches that have already been shown to work - like risk assessments. Finally, it includes an important up to 10 percent set aside for research and evaluation.

       From day one, this Administration has made it clear that applying science and using evidence are priorities. Last year at OJP, Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson launched an Evidence Integration Initiative that we call E2I. One of the major objectives of E2I is to make sure the term "evidence-based" has a real and definite meaning - that we don't allow it to become hollow jargon. We're working to integrate evidence in our program and policy decisions and to make it useful, accessible, and practical.

       As we strive to better apply evidence, we will also continue to foster innovation. We know that one size rarely fits all, and E2I still encourages new ideas and novel approaches.

       E2I is being implemented across all OJP's bureaus and offices, and I'm sure my colleagues here will have more to say about what their bureau or office is doing in this area.

       Before I introduce them, let me emphasize again that together we have the means to shape the future of community corrections. We look forward to working with you to find the keys to successfully balance budgets, reduce recidivism, and increase public safety. Looking for these keys is admittedly more challenging than just locking up offenders and throwing away the key - as we've done in the past - but the results are infinitely more significant.

       Now, it is my pleasure to introduce leaders from OJP's seven bureaus and offices. These dedicated individuals work every day to provide resources to the field to promote public safety. I don't have time to cover their lengthy and impressive biographies, but they are all veterans in their respective fields and public servants in the truest sense of the word. I can't thank them enough for their service, and I am proud to call them my colleagues.

       First, I'd like to welcome our two newest leaders. The Senate recently confirmed the new director of the National Institute Justice, John Laub, and the new director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Jim Lynch. These two well-respected scientists are now heading up our research and data functions.

       Also with us today is our Acting Director of BJA, Jim Burch, and our Acting Administrator of OJJDP, Jeff Slowikowski. Joye Frost, the Acting Director of the Office for Victims of Crime, is here as well. We are also joined by Dennis Greenhouse, Director of the Community Capacity Development Office, and Allison Turkel, who is sitting in for Linda Baldwin, the Director of the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking, or the SMART Office.

       I'd now like to invite each of them to provide a very brief overview of their community corrections initiatives.

       Thank you all. Now, I'd like to open the session up for audience questions.


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