Remarks of Mary Lou Leary, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
Justice Department Anti-Violence Strategy Visit
With the United States Attorney
Western District of Oklahoma
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Oklahoma City, OK
Thank you, Sandy. I'm so pleased to be here. I want to thank Sandy and his staff - and everyone here - for their outstanding work in support of the Attorney General's Anti-Violence Strategy.
I've just spent a busy - but wonderfully positive - day visiting some extraordinary programs here in Oklahoma City. And I'm looking forward to seeing one more.
I'd like to thank Sandy for his leadership in coordinating federal and local efforts here. It's clear from my visits today that some excellent work is being done here in Oklahoma City. The programs I've seen in action really are what the Attorney General envisioned with his Anti-Violence Strategy - local, state, and federal partners working together to make a difference in communities.
You're setting an example for the rest of the nation. You're showing that reducing crime and creating safer neighborhoods is about more than arresting and locking away offenders - it's about getting to the root of the problems that lead to crime. It's about targeting those who are most at risk for offending and providing appropriate interventions.
We know that no group is at greater risk for committing new crimes than those who have already been involved with the system. Some 7.2 million people are under some form of correctional supervision in our country - either behind bars or on probation or parole. Two thirds of the 730,000 people who come out of our nation's prisons every year are re-arrested, which means that a substantial amount of crime is committed by repeat offenders.
We need to do more to help these returning offenders transition back into their communities. We need to give them the necessary skills to get jobs. We need to give them access to education and vocational training. We even need to help them develop basic social skills so they can make important connections with their families and peers.
Reentry is one of the three core elements of the Attorney General's Anti-Violence Strategy - one of the three legs of the three-legged stool. The other two are prevention and enforcement. All three are needed in order for us to realize sustainable reductions in crime.
The Attorney General has been a staunch advocate of stronger reentry programming like the Probation and Parole Reentry Education Program. He chairs a federal government-wide Reentry Council that works to coordinate all federal reentry-related programs. Our agency - the Office of Justice Programs - is helping to staff the Council. We're also supporting some 250 reentry programs across the country through the federal Second Chance Act. And we're investing another $100 million in reentry programs this year.
A big part of our work, though - and this is one of our agency's key roles in the Anti-Violence Strategy - is helping communities find workable solutions to their crime problems. Our Assistant Attorney General, Laurie Robinson, launched what we call the Evidence Integration Initiative to get a solid handle on what approaches work in preventing and reducing crime - and to make that information available to those of you working on the front lines.
As part of that, we're setting up an online Crime Solutions Resource Center called CrimeSolutions.gov that goes live next week. This is a clearinghouse of information about programs that work and that are promising in addressing crime. The goal is to help busy practitioners and leaders find out what approaches can work in their communities.
We see this as our responsibility as your partner in public safety. In our view, we can serve no better role than by giving you the information you need to leverage your resources in the smartest possible way.
Again, I'm so very pleased to be here today. I'm grateful for your hospitality, but most of all, I appreciate your commitment to the safety of your communities.
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