Reforms Needed to Extend Public Safety Gains, Says DOJ’s Breuer


The nation’s “remarkable public safety achievements of the last 20 years are threatened unless reforms are instituted to make our public safety expenditures smarter and more productive,” says Lanny Breuer, head of the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division “In short, we are at a crossroads.” Speaking to the National District Attorneys Association, Breuer said the U.S. reacted to the major crime increase reported between 1960 ann 1992 by increasing the number of police on the streets, committing to reduce illegal drug use and drunk driving, and strengthening efforts to reduce recidivism and promote effective prisoner reentry initiatives

With those and other changes came major increases in criminal justice spending, from about $37 billion in 1982 to more than $227 billion in 2006. The net result of these reforms and investments has been a steep decline in violent crime, the opposite of what occurred in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, Breuer says. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 10 million Americans were victims of violent crime in 1991, whereas less than half that many – approximately 3.8 million – were victims of violent crime in 2010. Breuer says that the “combination of flat budgets, and ever increasing prison and detention spending, is at odds with achieving further gains in our nation's crime-fighting efforts.”

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