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WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder today convened the inaugural meeting of the Cabinet-level "Reentry Council" in Washington to identify and to advance effective public safety and prisoner reentry strategies.
In addition to the Attorney General, the council includes Departments of Education Secretary Arne Duncan; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan; Labor Secretary Hilda Solis; and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Members also include Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Michael Astrue; Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, R. Gil Kerlikowske; Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes; Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua DuBois; and Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Jacqueline Berrien.
The council will address short-term and long-term goals through enhanced communication, coordination and collaboration across federal agencies. The mission of the council is threefold: to make communities safer by reducing recidivism and victimization; to assist those returning from prison and jail in becoming productive, tax paying citizens; and to save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration.
"Reentry provides a major opportunity to reduce recidivism, save taxpayer dollars and make our communities safer," said Attorney General Holder. "More than two million people are behind bars, and 95 percent of them will be released back into their communities. By developing effective, evidence-based reentry programs, we can improve public safety and community well-being."
Among its goals, the Reentry Council will meet semi-annually to leverage resources across agencies to reduce recidivism and victimization; identify evidence-based practices that advance the council’s mission; promote changes to federal statutes, policies and practices that focus on reducing crime; and identify federal policy opportunities and barriers to improve outcomes for the reentry community.
The council will be supported by an interagency staff group from 16 federal departments and office. Since first convening in September 2010, the group has produced a collaborative "Inventory of Federal Resources Focusing on Prisoner Reentry at the State and Local Levels" and has worked with Justice Department grantee, the National Reentry Resource Center, to succinctly map out the various investments directed to the reentry population from across the administration (www.nationalreentryresourcecenter.org/national-criminal-justice-initiatives-map).
In Fiscal Year 2010, the Department of Justice awarded $100 million to support 178 state and local reentry grants to provide a wide range of services.
More information about reentry issues is at nationalreentryresourcecenter.org/ .