Loretta Lynch's Surprise Announcement Yesterday
Yesterday, US AG Loretta Lynch dropped some news about crime as she closed out the two-day Washington Ideas Forum hosted by the Atlantic and Aspen Institute at Sidney Harman Hall.
In an interview with NBC News' Chuck Todd, Lynch announced for the first time that the DOJ is awarding $53M in "second chance grants" to help communities combat recidivism. The funds will go to 45 jurisdictions for services such as tech-related job training and placement and training for mentors. When Chuck mentioned a post-Hurricane Katrina study that showed recidivism rates among former prisoners who returned to the Ninth Ward were almost double that of former prisoners who'd relocated elsewhere, Lynch responded that the goal of the program is not to remove people from their neighborhoods—it's to strengthen neighborhoods to support people returning.
The AG had just returned from Seattle and Richmond, CA, on a six-city community policing tour. They're looking for cities that have had challenging relationships between communities and law enforcement, but have found a way to rebuild that relationship. (There may never be a perfect situation, she says, but the intent is to find a way in which when problems develop, there's a mechanism for discussion and a working relationship between residents and law enforcement.) In Birmingham, for instance, there's a program where police officers talk directly to high school students, including doing role-playing exercises to break down barriers. When pressed on whether there should be a mandatory, uniform way to keep statistics around when police officers discharge their weapons, Lynch said that some departments do an excellent job of recording it, but the DOJ is not trying to "reach down from Washington and dictate to every local department how they should handle the minutia of recordkeeping. But we are stressing to them that these records must be kept."