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

Interagency Reentry Council Meeting

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Washington, DC

     Thank you, Attorney General Holder. I'd like to add just a couple of things.

     DOJ's focus on reentry grew out of discussions back in the 90s in this very room. Janet Reno was Attorney General, Eric Holder was Deputy Attorney General, Jeremy Travis was here as Director of our National Institute of Justice, and I was OJP's Assistant Attorney General.

     Since then, reentry has blossomed at the state and local levels. It's great to see the energy around the country, and we're seeing that with our Second Chance Act grantees - our last solicitation generated almost 1,000 applications from the field!

     Also - and I think this is an important point to note with the new Congress - this issue has real bi-partisan support. And not just here in Washington - as you know, the Second Chance Act was a bi-partisan bill signed into law by a Republican President - but in state capitals across the country.

     Legislators and policymakers on both sides of the aisle are coming together because they see reentry as an effective way to address crime. Secretary Sebelius, you know this first-hand from your days as governor. This bi-partisan spirit is not something we see very often in the public safety arena.

     Finally, focusing on reentry makes sense in this tough economic climate. As the Attorney General pointed out, a very high percentage of released prisoners come back into the system because they're not prepared to make it on the outside. And this keeps corrections costs unsustainably high. Reentry is not only an opportunity to reduce these costs - which are eating through state budgets - but it's also a way to get former inmates back into the tax-paying column.

     So I see this as a tremendous opportunity both from a public safety perspective and from the standpoint of fiscal health.

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