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Attorney General Holder Visits the Potomac Job Corps Center
October 13, 2011 Posted by
Attorney  General Holder visits the Potomac Job Corps Training Center

Attorney General Holder visits the Potomac Job Corps Training Center

Today, Attorney General Eric Holder joined the Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis for a tour of the Potomac Job Corps Center in Washington, D.C. With 120+ nationwide campuses in over 40 states and Puerto Rico, Job Corps centers train over 60,000 students each year.

The U.S. Department of Labor administers the Job Corps career technical and education training program free-of-cost to help youth ages 16 through 24 improve their quality of life and find a career.  Since Job Corps’ beginning in 1964, the program has remained committed to offering students a positive environment for professional and educational success.

The Potomac Job Corps Center lives up to the mission of teaching eligible young people the skills they need to become employable, independent and professionally trained in variety of technical and academic areas.

Attorney General Holder and Secretary Solis speak with young people at the center.

Attorney General Holder and Secretary Solis speak with young people at the center.

During the tour of the Center,  Attorney General Holder joined students of all career areas in a round table discussion to listen to their personal stories, passions and plans for the future, saying:

 “I want to thank all of the students for their inspiring stories. They are the future leaders of this nation and I know their futures will be bright.”

During lunch, students in the Culinary Arts career program showcased their culinary skills for the Attorney General and Department of Labor Secretary Solis. Jobs Corps Center Director, Steven Belk, along with the center’s Student Government Association President, Andrea Williams, thanked Attorney  General Holder and Secretary Solis for visiting and taking time to talk with  the young people there. 

For more information, youth interested in applying to Job Corps should visit: http://www.jobcorps.gov/home.aspx

Champions for Justice
October 13, 2011 Posted by

 

Attorney General Holder hosts a panel with a selection of the honorees to discuss how to increase access to justice.

Attorney General Holder hosts a panel with a selection of the honorees to discuss how to increase access to justice.

 

 “Equal justice under the law” is more than just a phrase. It is an American ideal, at the core of our belief system.   And yet, for too many Americans, sound legal advice and assistance has been out of reach.

 That is why last year the President and the Attorney General launched the Access to Justice Initiative. It was formed to address this crisis – to ensure that basic legal services are available, affordable and accessible to everyone in this country – regardless of status, income, or wealth.  Across the country, the department has been diligently working with federal, state, local and private partners towards enhancing the availability, and quality of legal representation available to all.

Most defendants are dependent on the service of public lawyers, and in some cases, public defender caseloads are so excessive that they struggle to fulfill their basic obligations to their clients. Many times, these circumstances leave our criminal justice system falling short. Those who suffer most from these shortcomings are often the most vulnerable among us – immigrants, juveniles, the homeless, disabled veterans, or victims of domestic and sexual violence.

However, the innovation and perseverance of dedicated legal professionals across the nation is making a difference. 

 Today the Department of Justice and the White House, came together to celebrate and honor some of these “Champions of Change” who promote access to justice in their communities.  As Attorney General Eric Holder said:

All across the country, each one of them is making a difference – by helping people in dire need access legal services; by securing much-needed benefits for disabled children, military families, and veterans; by paving the way for individuals transitioning out of our prisons and jails to become productive members of their communities; and by helping to safeguard – and to empower – the most vulnerable among us.

Leading advocates from the private and public sector, including defense lawyers, prosecutors, law professors and law students attended the event.  There are 118 law schools watching the event via a live-feed, thousands more students got to witness as the Champions shared their successes and had an open discussion about the work that still remains to be done.

 Beginning on Oct. 17, 2011, a video of the event and Champions’ individual stories will be highlighted at www.whitehouse.gov/champions.  In addition, the Champions’ blogs, as well as entries from each of the 118 participating law schools describing their commitment to public service, will be featured.

 Since its launch, Access to Justice has made an impact in beginning to improve the legal system for all Americans, regardless of status. If you would like to learn more about the Access to Justice Initiative and how you can help in your own community, visit justice.gov/atj  

$130 Million Dollars in Cost Savings and Efficiency Measures
October 7, 2011 Posted by

 The following post appears courtesy of Attorney General Eric Holder

Since this Administration’s earliest days, President Obama has signaled his commitment to conserving resources – and saving precious taxpayer dollars – by cutting costs, streamlining government operations, and working to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse wherever we find it.  Across the Justice Department, achieving these goals has been a top priority.  And we’ve made critical – and, at times, extremely difficult – decisions to improve efficiency and reduce spending.

For example, at the beginning of this year, I ordered a Justice Department-wide hiring freeze, and instructed my colleagues at every level to limit travel, training, and other costs to only those needs that are absolutely essential.  This order remains in effect – and, to date, the reductions in conference spending alone have already provided savings of $14 million over the same period last year.

In June, President Obama and Vice President Biden launched an Administration-wide Campaign to Cut Waste, and directed every office and agency in the Federal Government to take their cost-cutting efforts to the next level.  Once again, the Justice Department rose to the challenge.

I am proud to report that the Department has taken significant, aggressive action to make good on our promise to act as sound stewards of taxpayer funds.  [Earlier this week/Last week], we announced a series of measures that will increase our efficiency, maintain our critical law enforcement and public safety activities, and save more than $130 million.

We’re determined to meet current budgetary challenges by more effectively using the Department’s resources, realigning functions in various offices, and lowering lease costs by consolidating or reducing office space wherever possible.  Based on the guidance of Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the recommendations of Justice Department leaders at every level, and the robust efforts of the Advisory Council for Savings and Efficiencies – which I created in July 2010, and which has already provided more than $50 million in savings – my colleagues and I will continue to seek new ways to reduce spending and increase the efficiency of our day-to-day-operations, without compromising our effectiveness.

In this time of uncommon challenges and unprecedented threats, the need to conserve scarce resources – and to accomplish more with less – has never been more apparent, or more urgent.  Across the Department of Justice, we are fully committed to these efforts.  And, throughout the Administration, I am confident in our ability to build on this record of success.

Learn more about the cost-saving measures recently announced by the Justice Department.

Improving Public Safety & Creating Jobs
October 5, 2011 Posted by

 

Attorney General Holder announces COPS grants in Ohio.

Attorney General Holder announces COPS grants in Ohio.

 

The following post appears courtesy of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Today, along with COPS Director Barney Melekian, I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to discuss the Justice Department’s most recent efforts to support our nation’s law enforcement community – and to ensure that police officers from coast to coast have the resources that they need and deserve.

In recent years, police departments like Cincinnati’s – and law enforcement agencies nationwide – have faced extraordinary budget difficulties and have been asked to do more with less.  All across the country, law enforcement officials have risen to the challenge – and found innovative, collaborative ways to improve public safety and to keep crime trends heading in the right direction.  But at a time when approximately 10,000 officer jobs have been cut, and three times as many positions are currently unfilled due to fiscal constraints, we have a looming national crisis on our hands, both in terms of public safety and public employment.  In short, our citizens need protection – and our police officers and other first responders need jobs.

As part of the Department’s ongoing effort to meet these needs, I’m proud to report that the COPS Office is providing more than $240 million in new grants to support the hiring and retention of more than 1,000 officers in nearly 240 agencies and municipalities across the country.  The Cincinnati Police Department alone was awarded more than $6.8 million in grant money from the COPS Hiring Program, which will fund 25 critical positions for three years. 

Such targeted investments are essential to advancing the Department’s mission to be smart, as well as tough, on crime.  These same priorities are reflected in President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act, which – in addition to creating new employment opportunities and bolstering economic growth – aims to put more officers on the beat and strengthen public safety efforts nationwide. 

Although we all can be proud of – and inspired by – the courage and commitment that our nation’s law enforcement officers exhibit every day, we must find ways to take this work to the next level.  The COPS Hiring Program – and this Administration’s determination to create and restore law enforcement jobs across the country – will allow us to do just that.

To learn more about the COPS Hiring Program and the Department’s ongoing work to support our law enforcement partners at every level, read the press release or visit http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/

Attorney General Holder Meets with Muslim Leaders in Portland
September 30, 2011 Posted by
Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton meet with Arab-American and Muslim leaders in Portland, Oregon

Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton meet with Arab-American and Muslim leaders in Portland, Oregon

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Dwight Holton met with Arab-American and Muslim leaders in Portland to discuss the department’s commitment to protecting the rights of the Muslim, Sikh, Arab-American, and South Asian communities.  

Attendees included: Salma Ahmad, Gulzar Ahmed, Shariar Ahmed, Shamima Banu, Mohammed Ridha, Mostafa Arifin, Ronault Catalani, Mohamed Farah, Samira Godil, Jamal Haagi, Mohammed Haque, Tahmina Hossain, Muhammad Najieb, Nadira Najieb, Musse Olol, Athar Pasha, Ayoob Ramjan, Zaki Said, Mozafar Wanly, Yosof Wanly, Anam Pasha and Mohamed Alyajouri.

The Justice Department, under Attorney General Holder, has emphasized outreach to American Muslim and Arab communities, building upon efforts by the Civil Rights Division, which has met with national leaders of Arab American and Muslim American organizations, as well as with other community groups across the country. These meetings are one way to ensure we continue to protect against threats to our national security while building trusting, collaborative, and productive relationships that facilitate mutual understanding between certain communities, and the law enforcement officials serving them.

Attorney General Holder has said:

“In this nation, our many faiths, origins and appearances must bind together, not break us apart.  In this nation, the document that sets forth the supreme law of the land – our Constitution – is meant to empower, not exclude.  And in this nation, security and liberty are – at their best – partners, not enemies, in ensuring safety and opportunity for all.”

The Department’s engagement efforts have two central components. First we seek to build trust by working with Muslim leaders to find out how we can better serve the community on issues like civil rights enforcement to anti-bullying efforts. In addition, we work to equip and empower local Muslim leaders to help them guard against violent extremists who are targeting young people in their communities for recruitment to misguided, violent causes.

The Muslim leaders who met with the Attorney General pledged their support and are undertaking practical steps resist violent extremists targeting their young people and help federal law enforcement do its job better. 

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks with Zaki Said during a meeting with Muslim leaders in Portland, Oregon.

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks with Zaki Said during a meeting with Muslim leaders in Portland, Oregon.

Engagement is just one way that the Justice Department is building stronger relationships with Arab and Muslim-American communities.  The Attorney General has met with Arab and Muslim-American community leaders in Washington, D.C. and across the country to discuss the federal government’s relationship the community and to improve the Department’s communication and collaboration with members of the community. Attorney General Holder also established an Arab and Muslim-American Engagement Advisory Group.  That group helps to coordinate and review community outreach efforts and policy initiatives that affect the community.

The department’s individual components have been active in the effort to address the concerns of Arab/Muslim communities through engagement and outreach. Many FBI field offices hold conference calls with local community leaders, and each field office employs a Community Outreach Specialist to engage the community through town hall meetings, public speaking, youth initiatives and citizens’ academies.  The Department’s Community Relations Service has responded to allegations of disparate and discriminatory treatment faced by Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities across the country by offering conciliation and mediation services, as well as appropriate training programs for law enforcement, government officials and members of the community. 

In addition, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are working in their districts to engage with their local Arab and Muslim-American communities.

  • U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are reaching out directly to local Arab and Muslim-American leaders and groups to develop closer relationships, participating in local events hosted by Arab and Muslim-American groups in their districts, including annual dinners, mosque openings, lectures and town hall meetings.  And they have sponsored conferences to promote cultural understanding between law enforcement and Arab, Muslim and Sikh-Americans.
  • U.S. Attorneys have worked with other agencies, including the FBI and various Department of Homeland Security components, to conduct outreach through programs such as Project Safe Neighborhood, Weed and Seed, hate crimes task forces, civil rights initiatives and anti-gang efforts.
  • U.S. Attorneys have conducted outreach to the international community, including foreign nationals working in embassies, to share general information about the United States, with a focus on elections, governmental transparency and improving interfaith efforts and race relations.

Working together we will continue to protect and defend our homeland, while upholding the promises of  the Constitution, including respect for civil liberties, a commitment to religious freedom and honor for the diversity of the American people.

Remembering 9/11
September 9, 2011 Posted by

The Department of Justice is marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks today and throughout the weekend with a number of events. This morning department employees gathered together in the Great Hall for a shared moment of silence led by Attorney General Holder.

The Attorney General addresses the employees gathered in the Great Hall to remember and honor the victims of 9/11.
The Attorney General addresses the employees gathered in the Great Hall to remember and honor the victims of 9/11.

Later in the morning, the Attorney General attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony.

The Attorney General attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony.

The Attorney General attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony.

This morning, as we reflect on the profound sacrifices and contributions of the many law enforcement officers and military service members who have risen to the challenge of securing our nation over the last decade – let us also reaffirm the enduring legacy of those we have lost: a nation that is not only safer, but stronger, than ever before…Let us carry on their unfinished work and strive – in their honor – to promote, not only safety and security, but also peace – and, above all, justice.   And – as we leave this place today – let us do everything in our power to ensure that – in our own time, in the lives of our children, and in the work of future generations – the stories, the memories, and the rich legacies of those we lost on September 11th will never be forgotten.

Finally, this afternoon, the Attorney General joined current and former Department of Justice employees for the Department of Justice 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony. 

Attorney General Holder speaks at the Justice Department 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony. he is joined onstage by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, and 9/11 family members and victim advocates, Carie Lemack and Major Abraham Scott.

Attorney General Holder speaks at the Justice Department 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony. he is joined onstage by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, and 9/11 family members and victim advocates, Carie Lemack and Major Abraham Scott.

On September 11th, 2001, when those towers were reduced to rubble – along with the western side of the Pentagon, and a patch of land in rural Pennsylvania – and as so many lives were cut short – we learned, in the most painful of ways, about the human capacity for evil.   But in the moments, months, and years since, we have seen – in the compassion and generosity of people across the world – the human capacity for good.   We also have witnessed our nation’s ability to transform sorrow into strength, into unity, into resiliency – and into a nationwide call to service…

…Despite all that was lost and destroyed on September 11th – when I think back on that terrible day, these are the qualities that shine through – at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and in the skies above Shanksville, Pennsylvania.   These are the defining attributes that brought our nation together – and will continue to make this country an example of strength.

 Since America’s earliest days – even in the darkest of moments – the citizens of this country have proven that – no matter the challenge, no matter the obstacle, no matter the differences that, at times, can divide us from one another – we are, and always will be, one nation.   One people.   Conceived in liberty; dedicated to the highest ideals of justice; and striving – always – to carry forward the difficult but essential work of building a more perfect union.

Former Solicitor General Ted Olson, and 9/11 family members and victim advocates, Carie Lemack and Major Abraham Scott, also spoke at the event.

On Sunday, September 11, 2011, Attorney General Holder will join President Obama and other Cabinet members at Ground Zero where they will honor the men, women and children whose lives were abruptly ended on that autumn day.

To learn more about how the Department of Justice is remembering 9/11 and how we continue to remain vigilant to protect Americans and the American way of life, visit justice.gov/911

 
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