Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday convened the first meeting of a Cabinet-level “Reentry Council” to advance effective public safety and prisoner reentry strategies, the Justice Department reported. The meeting was not open to the public. The group will meet semi-annually to leverage resources across agencies to reduce recidivism and victimization; identify evidence-based practices; suggest 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. In the last federal fiscal year, the Justice Department awarded $100 million for 178 state and local reentry service grants.
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. Other members are Social Security commissioner 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.