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11 Cambridge, Massachusetts

12 Friday, June 5, 1998



15 The 1998 Radcliffe College Alumnae

16 Association keynote address by the Honorable

17 Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United

18 States, taken at Radcliffe College, 10 Garden

19 Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138, at 1:45

20 p.m., on Friday, June 5, 1998, and the

21 proceedings being taken down by Martin Mulrey, a

22 Professional Court Reporter and Notary Public,

23 and transcribed under his direction.




1 P R O C E E D I N G S


3 you so very much. You do me a very great honor,

4 and you give me much, much to live up to. But

5 you have done so much for me. You've given me a

6 wonderful Deputy Attorney General, Jamie

7 Garrelli, who I served with great delight

8 and pleasure. And Renee, it's so good to see

9 you. Radcliffe has sent to public service, sent

10 to the professions, sent to this country some

11 wonderful, wonderful people, and it is a great

12 institution, and I am very touched to be honored

13 as you have today.

14 We have a moment of opportunity in

15 this nation. We can make a long-range

16 difference for our future. We have that

17 opportunity. Or we can become complacent and

18 conclude, "Janet, crime is down, we don't need

19 to worry anymore," and go home. I suggest if we

20 do the latter, we're going to see a surge in

21 crime again as the number of juveniles increases

22 significantly in this nation. We will see a

23 wage gap widen as more and more people have

24 fewer skills to match the needs of the 21st

25 century. And we will see unease and dissention


1 and division.

2 What do we need to do to grasp this

3 moment of opportunity? Let us learn from these

4 past years, and let us conclude that we must

5 make not a one-time investment, but a lifetime

6 investment in people. Let us conclude that we

7 have been too long in investing in technology,

8 too long in investing in buildings and in land

9 without having the investment in people.

10 As a prosecutor in Miami, I would

11 pick up the pre-sentence investigation of a

12 sixteen-year-old, whom we had just prosecuted for

13 armed robbery. I could see four points along

14 the way in that child's life where we could have

15 intervened and made a difference, to avoid him from

16 dropping out, to giving him something to do in

17 the afternoons and evenings, some supervision.

18 And then the crack epidemic hit in

19 Miami in 1985, and the doctors took me to the

20 public hospital to try to figure out what to do

21 about crack-involved infants and their mothers.

22 And they taught me that the first three years of

23 life were the most formative of all. That is

24 when the person learned the concept of reward

25 and punishment and developed a conscience.


1 And I thought, what good are all the

2 prevention programs going to be worth ten years

3 from now if we do not have a foundation today?

4 What good are all the jails going to be eighteen

5 years from now if the child doesn't have a

6 conscience or understand what punishment means?

7 And I became convinced that whatever

8 our concern, we must begin the investment now,

9 because if we do not invest from the beginning,

10 early on, we will never have the schools

11 available that can teach our children for the

12 future. They will all be providing remedial

13 education to try to bring the child up to today.

14 If we don't invest in our children and in people

15 now, our medical institutions will be brought to

16 their knees by a failure to provide preventative

17 medical care.

18 How do we do it? We're not going to

19 do it unless we collaborate, unless we realize

20 that the doctor can't solve the problem by

21 herself, the attorney general by herself, the

22 teacher by himself. President Wilson

23 I challenge you. I was recently at the

24 Kennedy School, and they said, "Well, we're

25 becoming more specialized." The academic world


1 can help lead us away from the specialization

2 that avoids collaboration, the specialization

3 that leads us down into one little path.

4 We do not raise a child with a

5 specialty. We do not raise a nation with a

6 specialty. We need to collaborate. We need to

7 make sure that as we build to create self-

8 sufficient people, that we build in a

9 comprehensive way. It makes no sense to have a

10 wonderful Head Start program and then have a

11 child at risk afternoons and in the evenings and

12 summertimes when there is no one there to

13 supervise them from the first grade to the

14 twelfth grade. It requires that we build brick-

15 by-brick.

16 Another wonderful opportunity exists

17 for us, and that is to learn again, that

18 research, study, analysis and evaluation can be

19 wonderful tools to those who are trying to

20 create the answers to social problems. And we

21 cannot forget that in this great institution and

22 in this great center of learning. Too often I

23 see something come across my desk, looks like

24 wonderful statistics, but it's five years old.

25 What's that got to do with now? I need current


1 information. I need the best analysis. I need

2 to find out what's working and what doesn't

3 work. I need to find out how you can adjust the

4 program to make it work. And that's happening

5 now. Let us base our decisions, our public

6 policy decisions on the most informed

7 information that we can achieve.

8 Let us determine that this is not a

9 Republican or a Democratic issue. It is an

10 issue that is based on common sense. It is an

11 issue that is based not on rhetoric, but just on

12 steady building, block-by-block, based on the

13 sound information that we develop.

14 Let us create partnerships. I never

15 liked it when the Feds came to town telling me

16 what to do. I always wanted them to come to

17 town saying, "You understand your community

18 better than we do. What can we do to help you?"

19 And finally, if you want to engage in

20 a wonderful opportunity, don't be discouraged.

21 Anybody that has tried to participate in

22 rebuilding a community and investing in others

23 knows the frustration, that there's sometimes

24 four steps forward and five steps back, as a

25 child disappoints you, as a person fails you.


1 What are the building blocks? Let's

2 start one-by-one. First we must make sure that

3 we understand and that we do something about the

4 fact that the best caregiver of all is a strong,

5 sound family. And let us understand how we can

6 teach parenting skills to those who have not had

7 the opportunity to have it handed down from one

8 generation to another.

9 Let us make sure that we support our

10 children and that we, together, in every

11 community in this nation, develop child support

12 enforcement mechanisms that are efficient and

13 effective at collecting child support. This is

14 not a problem of the poor. This is a problem

15 that reaches across all socioeconomic classes in

16 this country, and we ought to use our smarts,

17 our technology and our legal processes to make

18 that work.

19 Let us focus on the fact that the

20 child who watches his father beat his mother

21 comes to accept violence as a way of life. And

22 if we're going to make an investment in people

23 in this country, we have got to do something

24 about domestic violence, and the moment is now.

25 My friends, we can change a culture


1 in this nation. Congress has authorized

2 billions of dollars in the Violence Against

3 Women Act. It goes directly to states, for

4 which they plan the distribution of the money in

5 an orderly way, for shelters, for courts, for

6 other initiatives aimed at domestic violence.

7 Get involved. There is an advisory committee in

8 almost every community. There are groups that

9 are focused on this issue. The money is there.

10 There are budget surpluses in most state

11 legislatures now.

12 If we work hard for the next five

13 years with doctors and lawyers working together,

14 understanding that it's a criminal justice and a

15 public health problem together, if schools and

16 employers work together, focusing on the

17 identification of domestic violence problems, we

18 can change the culture of this nation so that

19 our grandchildren will look back and say, "They

20 did what?"

21 But here is our greatest challenge:

22 If we are going to raise children, we have got

23 to figure out -- and we ought to be able to do

24 it -- how we can be the lawyer, the doctor, the

25 teacher and raise our children the right way. I


1 remember my afternoons after school and in the

2 evening. My mother worked in the home. She

3 taught us how to play baseball, to make cakes,

4 to appreciate Beethoven's symphonies. She

5 punished us, and she loved us with all of her

6 heart, and there is no child care in the world

7 that will ever be a substitute for what that

8 woman was in our life.

9 If we can send a man to the moon, we

10 ought to figure out how to have organized flex

11 time and work schedules that permit both parents

12 to spend quality time with their children.

13 One suggestion: Why don't we have

14 two shifts, one shift ending as school gets out

15 so that one parent can go pick up the children

16 after school, and the other shift starting about

17 three hours later so you avoid rush-hour traffic

18 at night? It makes sense. Let's try it.

19 The next building block is health.

20 Something has been wrong with a nation that says

21 to a person seventy years of age, you can have

22 an operation that extends your life expectancy

23 by three years, but for too many children for

24 too long we said, you can't get preventative

25 medical care because your parent earns too much


1 to be eligible for Medicaid and you can't --

2 they don't have insurance.

3 We have got to make sure that every

4 child in America has proper preventative medical

5 care, and if we don't care about children, some

6 do, it comes out of our pocketbooks if we wait

7 to pay for the costly tertiary care three years

8 down the line. Let us use common sense as we

9 build these blocks that put the lives of America

10 together.

11 Let us focus on the wonderful,

12 wonderful things that have happened in the

13 treatment of mental health. And it's been such

14 a revolution. There are so many wonderful

15 things that can be done, and yet you see some of

16 these children do such tragic and tortured and

17 horrible acts. You see the stories talking

18 about the danger signals that were there, and

19 you see the children who didn't get the help

20 that could unlock that terror that caused those

21 tragedies.

22 Let us make sure that we understand

23 the tremendous strength and the wonderful

24 resource in the children of America who suffer

25 from disabilities and again realize what the


1 Americans with Disabilities Act has done to open

2 doors all across America. We can double the

3 opening of those doors if we make an investment

4 up front in children and give them the tools to

5 do the job.

6 Let us understand about housing. The

7 child can't grow, we can't make the investment

8 if the toilet from the ceiling above is falling

9 into the kitchen below. Let us organize our

10 efforts in a sensible way.

11 And I will give you one example of

12 what I've talked about. I came to Jackson,

13 Mississippi on Martin Luther King's birthday to

14 work in Habitat for Humanity. I thought I was

15 going to one habitat house. I did. But it was

16 in the middle of a neighborhood that was being

17 renovated and rebuilt by people who cared, by

18 neighbors who were going to be neighbors, by

19 high school students. The before and after of

20 that neighborhood was extraordinary. Each one

21 of us can be part of a building block. Mrs.

22 Winters, the wife of the former governor of

23 Mississippi, was there ready to work. Every one

24 of us can participate.

25 The key to everything that we talked


1 about is something that this great institution

2 reflects. We're not going to have the building

3 blocks unless we focus on education. And let's

4 start with zero to three. Let's not call it

5 child care, let's call it educare. If 50% of

6 all learned human response is learned in the

7 first year of life, then let's make that

8 investment up front with quality educare for

9 every one of our children. Let us make sure

10 that we expand Head Start so that its benefits

11 are felt for every child throughout this land.

12 Let us focus on K through 12 and

13 start doing something about a nation that pays

14 its football players in the six-digit figures

15 and pays its teachers what we pay them.

16 Let us keep our children in school.

17 We've had truant officers and truant officers,

18 but that doesn't do the job. You've got to have

19 the truant officer working with the youth

20 counselor, working with the public health nurse,

21 making a home visit to find out why that child

22 was truant in the first place. But let us

23 figure out how we keep our children in school so

24 that they can graduate with a skill that can

25 enable them to earn a living wage.


1 And let us start thinking of after

2 school. I learned an awful lot after school,

3 because I had proper supervision. I learned

4 some mistakes, too. We have got to start using

5 that school building as a center for after-

6 school, summertime learning. How many of you

7 have gone to city commissions advocating for a

8 youth center because the school wouldn't open

9 its doors after 4:00 in the afternoon? Let us

10 develop a system where these buildings are used,

11 if necessary, well into the night, to make sure

12 that we all have the opportunity to learn

13 throughout our life and that our children are

14 properly supervised.

15 If we have those children after

16 school, the question will be, how do we afford

17 it? That's the old question, oh, it's going to

18 cost money. The new answer is, there are people

19 who are wonderful mentors. Mentors can make a

20 difference if they're properly trained, if they

21 know how to talk to children, how to raise them

22 up instead of putting them down.

23 One of the great joys of my life was

24 to watch an eighty-three-year-old man stand up

25 and say, "You know what I do three mornings a


1 week for three hours each morning? I volunteer

2 as a teacher's aide in the first grade."

3 Teacher stood up next to him and she said, "The

4 gifted kids can't wait for their time with him

5 and the kids with learning disabilities think he

6 has the patience of Jobe." Every single one of

7 us can contribute to these building blocks, no

8 matter what our age, no matter what we do, if we

9 care about investing in people.

10 We've got to make two focused efforts

11 in terms of education. First we've got to

12 realize that unless we invest in developing

13 technical skills for our young people today, we

14 are not going to have the workforce to fill the

15 jobs to maintain this nation as a first-grade

16 nation in the cyber age, and we've got to start

17 now. We cannot wait to retrain. We have got to

18 begin now.

19 The second great challenge we have in

20 our public schools, in all our schools is to

21 teach people how to resolve conflicts without

22 knives and guns and fists, teach lawyers how to

23 resolve conflicts without going to expensive

24 trials that cost more than they are worth, teach

25 police officers how to arrest somebody without a


1 billy club and resolve the dispute and get the

2 kid off on the right foot.

3 Roger Fisher taught me civil

4 procedure many years ago at Harvard Law School.

5 He never once, I think, mentioned negotiation.

6 But Roger Fisher has shown, along with many of

7 his colleagues, that you can teach people to

8 negotiate. Children are learning, teachers are

9 learning and police officers are learning.

10 Let us imagine a society very soon to

11 come that to get a teaching certificate, you

12 have course work in conflict resolution, that to

13 finish basic law enforcement academies for

14 police officers, you get training in conflict

15 resolution and that every child has conflict

16 resolution programmed from the beginning of

17 their time in school. We can change the culture

18 of America.

19 And that leads to the issue of

20 safety. Crime is down for six years in a row.

21 Somebody said to me, "Congratulations." I said,

22 "I don't take the credit for it." They said,

23 "Just figure like you've won the lottery." So

24 I'll take credit for that.

25 There are so many pieces to a safe


1 community. Community policing is obviously

2 making a difference, because we are investing in

3 people and in bringing people to the table to

4 find out what their problems are, what their

5 priorities are and how they can work with police

6 to solve those problems. Police in Dorchester

7 and Roxbury have become the mentors for young

8 people and are making such a significant

9 difference. It is happening. It is happening

10 because people like Don Stern are associating

11 with people from Harvard to figure out what are

12 the crime problems in Boston today and looking

13 at the hard data, looking at the research,

14 working with Commissioner Evans and working with

15 so many other people in this community in

16 collaboration. We have seen a significant

17 reduction in juvenile homicides, again proof

18 that if people come together in good will, you

19 can make a difference.

20 We can do it if we focus again on the

21 community, on the concept of community justice.

22 Not in some remote court, but a court that's

23 there, dealing with people's problems. But none

24 of it's going to make any difference unless we

25 change the culture of this nation about guns.


1 I'm not saying -- with President Clinton's

2 leadership, we've banned assault weapons, we've

3 passed the Brady Act.

4 But we have got to let people know

5 that there is a consequence, we have got to let

6 our young people know there is a consequence of

7 firing a gun, that it is a real thing, and we

8 have got to encourage the young people of

9 America to understand that we don't play with

10 guns when we're little, we don't play with guns

11 when we're big if we don't know how to safely

12 and lawfully use them. We have got to change

13 the attitude of this nation towards guns. It

14 doesn't mean that we stop using them for good

15 recreational purposes. It means that we know

16 how to safely and lawfully use them and

17 demonstrate that ability.

18 The next way we can change the

19 culture of America is to focus on drug

20 treatment. There is something wrong with a

21 nation that says to somebody who runs up Storrow

22 Drive going sixty miles an hour after having

23 five drinks and kills two people and breaks his

24 arm that he gets his arm set at the Mass.

25 General tonight at the taxpayers' expense even


1 if he can't afford it, whereas the person crying

2 out for drug treatment too often can't get it

3 because it's not available.

4 We have shown in these last fifteen

5 years that drug treatment can work. I bet

6 there's not a person in this room who doesn't

7 know somebody who is recovering or who is in --

8 but everyone knows somebody who has benefitted

9 from treatment. We have got to make sure that

10 treatment is available on a cost-effective basis

11 so that we prevent the problem before the abuse

12 occurs, before the crime occurs, before we see a

13 cycle repeat itself again and again.

14 But somebody said that the best

15 caregiver is the family, but the best social

16 service is a good job. There are too many

17 people who do not have the skills to find a job

18 that can pay a living wage. The gap between

19 those who have and have not has increased

20 dramatically in this nation, with more falling

21 into both categories and the middle class

22 sometimes vanishing.

23 We have got to develop the capacity

24 within our educational system to train people

25 for the future, to give them the skills that can


1 form the foundation of retraining down the line,

2 that can give them the skills to fill the jobs,

3 that can give them the work ethic to understand

4 that you get to work on time, that this is how

5 you follow directions, this is how you save

6 money. These are all parts of the building

7 blocks. And we have got to take some of the

8 great work being done in this educational area

9 and find out how we organize the market forces

10 where there are a large number of young people

11 to fill the jobs, to provide jobs to give these

12 people opportunity.

13 I have been Attorney General for a

14 little over five years. I came to Washington

15 believing with all my heart and soul in this

16 nation. I felt so proud that I would have the

17 opportunity to try to use the law to help

18 people.

19 After a little over five years,

20 somebody says, "Well, are you disillusioned?"

21 And I turn and say no way. Never, ever, after

22 this time, have I believed so profoundly in the

23 future of this nation, so profoundly in its

24 people, so profoundly in the children of this

25 nation.


1 My friends, children are some of the

2 toughest little critters you ever saw. If

3 they're given half a chance, they're going to

4 succeed. Let's give them a real chance so they

5 really succeed. It's happening across America.

6 Join with me in doing this. Thank you.


8 sincerest thanks to Attorney General Reno.

9 Those were truly inspiring remarks.

10 (Whereupon the proceedings were

11 concluded at 2:10 p.m.)