The Justice Department and Reentry Policy Building Engagement, Improving Outcomes

Vol. 51 No. 4

By

James M. Cole is deputy attorney general for the Department of Justice. He has also served as a trial attorney in the Criminal Division and as the deputy chief of the Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Public safety requires incarceration and few would dispute that imprisonment is, at least partially, responsible for the dramatic drop in crime rates in recent decades. We need to hold accountable those individuals who commit crimes—either through incarceration or through other effective and appropriate sanctions. But a complete strategy for criminal law enforcement should include more than just imprisonment. To be truly effective in finding comprehensive solutions to address crime in our communities, we also need to prevent crime—and here reentry plays an integral role. By preventing the occurrence of crime in the very first instance and providing individuals reentering our communities from jails and prisons with the tools they need to succeed and turn away from crime after release, we can be more cost-effective and make our communities safer. And by balancing prevention and reentry efforts with enforcement and imprisonment, we can reinforce our commitment to being smart, as well as tough, on crime.

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