AG Eric Holder Outlines DOJ 's Planned Priorities

Attorney General Eric Holder addressed Justice Department employees yesterday on planned priorities. The full text is here.

Going forward, the department's priorities will be: terrorism, violent crime (which includes enforcement against so-called drug organizations) and financial fraud. He emphasized the increased use of "intelligence", particularly in sharing information between federal, state and local agencies. My translation: We can expect more surveillance. And more of the current trend of labeling garden-variety drug conspiracies as major "drug trafficking organizations" with links to some gang or cartel.

On terrorism: [More...]

We will aggressively pursue emerging threats around the world and at home, and enhance our ability to gather and analyze actionable intelligence. We will engage in outreach efforts to all communities in order to prevent terrorism before it occurs. We will be vigilant – not only against international terrorist organizations, but also against domestic extremist groups, militias, and other home-grown threats. And let me be very clear about this: we will continue to rely on our most powerful and most proven tool in bringing terrorists to justice – our federal court system.

On drugs and intelligence:

Through intelligence-driven, threat-based prosecutions – we will focus on dismantling criminal organizations and putting them out of business for good.

Holder also stressed the importance of prevention programs and re-entry assistance to offenders to reduce recidivism.

Today, 1 in every 100 American adults is incarcerated – and two-thirds of those who transition out of our jails and prisons eventually are rearrested. This is not acceptable. Helping our young people avoid lives of violence and crime – and providing support to those who’ve served their time and are struggling to rejoin and contribute to their communities – is not just a proven public safety approach. It is an economic imperative. And it is our moral obligation.

Details on the cabinet level re-entry council are here. Obama included funding for re-entry in his 2012 budget:

The President’s budget provides $187 million in prisoner reentry and jail diversion programs, including $100 million for the Second Chance Act programs. The President's budget proposes that drug and mental health courts programs be combined into a $57 million drug, mental health, and problem solving courts initiative.

When the House and Senate passed the Continuing Resolution for Obama's 2011 budget, all these programs got significant cuts:

Council of State Government Justice Center priority programs—the Second Chance Act program, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) program, and the Justice Reinvestment program—fall under state and local law enforcement assistance programs, which were cut by $434 million from the FY10 levels.

$148 million was cut from programs designed to help juveniles avoid the criminal justice system.

President Obama's 2012 proposed budget is overly heavy on law enforcement and too light on prevention. The words by Holder are nice, but as the Justice Policy Project points out, they are not borne out by the numbers.

There are currently more than 2.4 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails, the highest per capita rate in the world.19 Attempting to improve public safety through increased law enforcement and correctional spending is a failed approach. If the Administration and Congress want to spend scarce federal dollars to improve public safety, they should invest in programs and policies that have been shown to have positive and long-lasting effects on individuals and communities. These programs include:
  • community-based substance abuse and mental health treatment;
  • evidence-based prevention programs for youth;
  • employment, job skills, and education resources for underserved communities; and
  • diversion programs that keep people from entering the corrections system.
While Holder is a vast improvement over Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft, we still have such a long way to go towards becoming smart about crime. Instead of increased funding for the Bureau of Prisons so it can build a new federal prison in Alabama, why not increase prisoner good time and reduce the Bureau's operational costs? Why not eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders? Wiretapping and other forms of electronic surveillance, which cost huge sums of money, used to be used sparingly. Now they are used routinely, a trend that needs to be reversed.
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  • Display: Sort:
    Has this DOJ done anything (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by observed on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 08:12:01 AM EST
    to date about "right to life" terrorism?

    Hey now... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 11:31:27 AM EST
    you can make the argument that the less the DOJ is doing the better...lets not give them ideas for a new crime epidemic du jour.

    I mean look at their three priorities...terrorism?  Check, with a side of anti-terrorism terrorism and rights erosion.  Drug violence?  Check, got plenty o' that, plus anti-drug violence violence and the tyranny of prohibition.  Financial Fraud?  Never been fraud-ier baby.

    It's like if they go after problem "x", we still have problem "x" plus new problems "y" and "z".

    Maybe we should try sending them all on an unpaid furlough to address the crime problem, at least that hasn't been tried yet, and we'd save some money.


    Financial Fraud... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 08:47:50 AM EST
    where do you start Eric?  Our whole financial system is a fraud...and the kingpins are untouchables.

    I guess there's always a couple Madoff's floating around to bust, and maintain the illusion of free fair markets...like focusing the war on drugs on the distributors of nickel bags.

    Just curious, Jeralyn - (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 09:34:22 AM EST
    what, in your opinion, makes Holder a "vast improvement" over Gonzales and Ashcroft?

    You know what? (none / 0) (#10)
    by sj on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 10:13:08 AM EST
    I accepted that statement when I read it, but your question brought me up short.

    And then I remembered.  As much disdain as I had/have for Ashcroft, he resisted Gonzales and Card from his hospital bed in intensive care when they wanted to "reauthorize Bush's domestic surveillance program, which the Justice Department had just determined was illegal."


    Anyone still believe ... (5.00 / 0) (#22)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 02:27:04 PM EST
    these are Democrats?

    How nice to know that our biggest (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 03:57:48 PM EST
    problem, and the one that puts the nation's health, wealth, and happiness most at risk.....is last on the list.

    Site Violation - spam (none / 0) (#2)
    by MO Blue on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 07:34:50 AM EST

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiight... (none / 0) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 09:05:18 AM EST
    On drugs and intelligence:
        Through intelligence-driven, threat-based prosecutions - we will focus on dismantling criminal organizations and putting them out of business for good.

    'Threat-based prosecutions' is in direct conflict with reentry/diversion programs.  You can't threaten to lock someone up for a long time unless they spill their guts and claim you will focus more on jail diversion programs.

    They could save themselves a lot of late nights and pseudo-new approach non-sense and just stated the obvious, 'business as usual'.

    I did get a good laugh at their thought of putting organized crime and/or Cartels out of business for good.  What's next, the radical idea of telling Americans to just say 'none for me, please'.

    It is a laugher... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 09:23:16 AM EST
    thousands of years of human history beg to differ dude.

    Cops & Prosecutors don't have the tools, only Congress and the Pres do...by passing prohibition repeal legislation and signing it into law.  Even that won't work to eliminate organized crime and cartels, they're probably here till the end of the world, but it would certainly put a massive hurting on their bottom line, and greatly reduce their influence and power.


    Agreed (none / 0) (#9)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 10:11:52 AM EST
    My comment was all sarcasm, thought it was clear.

    It was making a joke of the 'new' policy...
    Meet the new failed policy, Same as the old failed policy.

    The part I was laughing at was their intent/assumption that they have some how found the golden skull and when they say they are going to end organized crime, they mean it, not like the fools before them who failed epochly.


    I got ya the first time... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 10:25:19 AM EST
    no way Holder or anyone else at DOJ actually believes they have the golden ticket to end organized crime...he's just talkin' sh*t.  They know full well the law is organized crime's best friend.

    "dude"... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 12:51:19 PM EST
    was referring to Holder, not you my friend...poor wording on my part.

    Gotcha (none / 0) (#20)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 01:08:26 PM EST
    Thought my Yankee sarcasm creds were dwindling.

    Sharp as ever brother... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 01:09:31 PM EST
    sharp as ever:)

    Financial fraud is THIRD??? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Dadler on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 09:58:26 AM EST
    It is the single biggest threat to every average American.  The entire country has been thieved.  Thieves sit in Obama's cabinet and meeting rooms.  But terrorism and drugs come before fraud?

    No, sorry, he is not better than ANYone if this is his plan.

    He is a useless waste of space, just like all the rest.

    The biggest act of financial thievery in the history of the nation, if not the world, and it doesn't merit number one consideration.


    Gotta get that campaign financed . . . . (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by nycstray on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 11:29:31 AM EST
    They're not going after those guys anyway (none / 0) (#11)
    by sj on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 10:14:31 AM EST
    They're fishing for much smaller fish.

    We are going to........... (none / 0) (#13)
    by NYShooter on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 11:09:36 AM EST
    that's the future. What about now, and in the recent past?

    They get amnesty?

    I don't get it; have any of the Big Shots, Obama, Holder, Reid, Boehner ever been asked, point blank, "As the chief Law Enforcement Officials of the land, what do you intend to do about the greatest criminals America has ever known, right here, right now, some even in your administration?"

    The smart-a$$ answer would be: (none / 0) (#16)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 12:25:28 PM EST
    "What are we gonna do?  Why, we're gonna keep letting them contribute to our campaigns - what do you think we are, crazy?"



    If asked... (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 12:52:42 PM EST
    such a question, we already know the answer...courtesy of Charlie Sheen via Bill Maher.

    "We already got your money, dude."


    Leave it to you guys (none / 0) (#19)
    by NYShooter on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 12:56:57 PM EST

    Holder better? (none / 0) (#24)
    by womanwarrior on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 10:48:11 PM EST
    Violent crime?  I thought that was supposed to be a state enforcement area.  

    Wonder how much money they are sending out for catching people looking at pictures on the internet?

    I think Holder says better things, but I am not sure that he does anything to see that better things are done.  

    Well, could be worse.

    Still, never any cost/benefit analyses (none / 0) (#25)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 07:18:25 AM EST
    Where do these goofs think the money for all their gee-wow splendiferous plans is coming from? The taxpayers? They should lay off the booze; it destroys brain cells, I hear.

    The ugly fact is that the tax base has not been able to support government operations for the past 30 years because of the steady erosion of the average American's earnings; the money to take up the slack was borrowed from foreign countries.

    Who are neither able nor willing to lend to us anymore, thanks to their own financial predicaments courtesy of the Great Recession...and our currency being de facto devalued thanks to Fed Reserve inflation via the QE2 makes their investments decrease in value.

    Anyone close to the fiscal well can see it has bottomed out, anyone but those in charge of Gub'mint finances. They're still running along as if we still had an economy worthy of the name. It will probably take a total crash and burn before it sinks in, and by then nobody will be concerned with high-minded theories about ideologically-driven crime-reduction programs. We'll all be too busy scratching to survive for that...