Attorney General Eric Holder called for a new approach to dealing with prisoner reentry Tuesday, saying that incarceration is not an economically sustainable way to combat violent crime.
In a speech at the Project Safe Neighborhoods annual conference, Holder also said a network of U.S. Attorneys are updating the Justice Department’s violent crime strategy focusing on three key areas: enforcement, prevention and reentry.
“Effective reentry programs provide our best chance for safeguarding our neighborhoods and supporting people who have served their time and are also resolved to improve their lives,” Holder said. “People who have been incarcerated are often barred from housing, shunned by potential employers and surrounded by others in similar circumstances. This is a recipe for high recidivism. And it’s the reason that two-thirds of those released are rearrested within three years. It’s time for a new approach.”
The Justice Department is convening an interagency working group which will focus exclusively on reentry issues, including housing, job training needs and policy recommendations, and will work to enhance coordination at the federal level, Holder said.
The Attorney General noted that the Justice Department distributed $28 million in reentry awards under the Second Chance Act and said another $100 million is available for reentry programs this year.
Project Safe Neighborhoods is an initiative funded by the Justice Department that advocates against gun violence. It began as a pilot program in Delaware in 2007. On Wednesday, acting Attorney General Gary Grindler also spoke at the conference, which is being held in New Orleans.
Grindler also handed out the 2010 Project Safe Neighborhoods Achievement Awards, which are listed below.
- The PSN Maine Task Force received the Outstanding Media Outreach Campaign Award for its Gun Sellers Awareness Campaign.
- The Western District of Tennessee Law Enforcement Coordination Committee received the Outstanding Local Training Program Award for developing and administering a series of training programs designed to improve the quality of officers’ criminal investigations, case documentation and courtroom presentations.
- Recipients of this year’s Outstanding Individual Contribution to a Violent Crime Task Force Award include Law Enforcement Coordinator for the District of New Mexico Ronald P. Lopez, Assistant Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Texas Trent Touchstone and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Guillermo Gil.
- The Tampa/Hillsborough Comprehensive Anti-Gang Task Force from the Middle District of Florida and the Eastern District of North Carolina PSN Partnership Task Force received the Outstanding Overall Partnership/Task Force Award.
- This year’s Outstanding Local Prosecutor’s Office Award was awarded to the Los Angeles City Attorney‘ s Office in the Central District of California, the Oklahoma County District Attorney‘ s Office in the Western District of Oklahoma and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington C. Andrew Colasurdo.
- Recipients of this year’s Outstanding Juvenile Program Award include the Springfield Salvation Army Bridging the Gap Program in the District of Massachusetts and the Mercer County PSN Juvenile Component in the District of New Jersey.
- The San Francisco Police Department received the Outstanding Local Police Department Involvement Award for its innovative violence reduction strategy designed to direct a concerted enforcement effort in “hot spots” in each of the 10 police districts in the city. The department reduced homicides by 54 percent and shootings by 34 percent in a single year.
- The Outstanding Gun Crime Investigation Award was awarded to Operation Gideon in the District of Arizona, Operation Glass Hotel in the District of Columbia, Operation Statesboro Blues in the Southern District of Georgia, and Operation City Nights in the Eastern District of Missouri.
- Operation Augusta Ink in the Southern District of Georgia, the Western District of North Carolina MS-13 Investigation and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force in Newport News, Va., received the award for Outstanding Gang Investigation.
- This year’s Outstanding Community Involvement Award was awarded to the Youth Intervention Network in the Northern District of California for its comprehensive initiative designed to build and support a high performing and robust community working together to serve youth identified as likely to commit or become victims of violent crimes without prevention assistance.
- Hartford Neighborhood Centers Inc. in the District of Connecticut and the Miami-Dade Reentry Task Force received the Outstanding Reentry Initiative Award.
- Dr. Anthony A. Braga, a Senior Research Associate at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, received the Outstanding Service by a Research Partner Award for providing research and program development assistance to the Massachusetts PSN Program for more than eight years.