U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today convened the inaugural meeting of the Cabinet-level "Reentry Council" in D.C. to identify and advance effective public safety and prisoner reentry strategies, Holder announced.
The council's members include federal department heads Arne Duncan, Education; Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services; Tom Vilsack, Agriculture; Ken Salazar, Interior; Shaun Donovan, Housing and Urban Development; Hilda Solis, Labor; and Eric Shinseki, Veterans Affairs.
Other members include Commissioner Michael Astrue, Social Security Administration; Director Gil Kerlikowske, Office of National Drug Control Policy; Director Melody Barnes, White House Domestic Policy Council; Executive Director Joshua DuBois, White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; and Chairwoman Jacqueline Berrien, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The council will coordinate federal agencies to make communities safer by "reducing recidivism and victimization, 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," according to 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."
The council will meet semi-annually. Since first convening in September of 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 the National Reentry Resource Center to map out the various investments directed to the reentry population from across the administration.
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.