Remarks of Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
International Association of Chiefs of Police Indian Country Law Enforcement Section Annual Meeting
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Thank you, Chairman LaPorte, for the kind introduction.
As Chairman LaPorte mentioned, I served at OJP in the late 1990s. And during that time, I had the privilege of working on the Comprehensive Indian Resources for Community and Law Enforcement, or Circle, Project. This was a Department of Justice initiative similar to the Weed and Seed Strategy in that it was designed to work with other agencies and private partners to go beyond law enforcement to develop economic and other resources to create healthy, self-sustaining communities in Indian Country.
While I was working on the Circle Project, I had the honor of being invited to the Zuni Pueblo for the Shakalo Festival. It was an honor that I deeply appreciated because it was rare for a non-Tribal member to be invited to the Festival.
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to re-establishing my relationship with the Tribal community, and I'm happy to be here today.
I'm sure that you all know that on September 21, in Albuquerque, Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli announced that the Department of Justice was awarding more than $236 million in Recovery Act and Fiscal Year 2009 public safety funding to criminal justice initiatives in Indian Country.
This support includes more than $224 million in Recovery Act funding to construct and renovate prisons and jails in Indian Country and nearly $12 million to enhance and improve the juvenile justice systems for American Indian and Alaskan Native youth throughout the country.
In addition, the 2009 Tribal Youth Program is awarding more than $11.96 million in support of enhanced tribal efforts to prevent and control delinquency and improve the juvenile justice system for American Indian/Alaskan Native youth. A major focus of the program is providing youth with mental health services.
Later this month, on October 28th and 29th, the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder will convene the Tribal Nations Listening Session on Public Safety and Law Enforcement in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
We believe this will be the first time in American history that the leaders of the tribal nations will meet with all three top officials from the Justice Department.
Now, I'd like to spend the few minutes I have talking about a topic of great importance to the Attorney General, and one of our top priorities at OJP – promoting evidence-based approaches for reducing crime.
We think the lesson is pretty clear – and we know you agree: Different communities face different problems, and what works in one jurisdiction may not work in another.
A simple enough diagnosis, but what to do about it?
We now have a substantial body of research in the criminal justice field, and the knowledge we're gaining from that research is having a greater influence on practice than ever before.
OJP has an important role to play in getting information out about what works – and what doesn't work – in reducing crime. We're uniquely positioned to help the field integrate data-driven approaches into state and local decision-making.
We're working now to improve the way we do that through our Evidence Integration Initiative, which has three aims:
o First – improve the quantity AND quality of evidence we generate through our research, evaluation, and statistical functions.
o Second – better integrate evidence in program and policy decisions.
o Third – improve the translation of evidence into practice.
Our goal is to help the field better understand what has been shown to work, based on accepted scientific principles. Yes, we are getting back to the science.
This idea of incorporating research into practice is one that has been embraced by many of you and we want to build on that momentum. And I hope that you will join with us to develop practices that meet your needs.