U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Thursday that the Justice Department will award $53 million in “second-chance” grants to organizations that help prevent recidivism.
“This is an important part of the Department's work in making sure that people coming out of prisons have an opportunity to rebuild their lives and that their communities also stay safe,” she said during an interview with NBC reporter Chuck Todd at the Washington Ideas Forum.
In our September cover story, my colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates described the psychic and physical geography of mass incarceration as “the Grey Wastes.” Lynch acknowledged seeing “entrenched pockets” like this in Brooklyn and Queens during her time there as a federal prosecutor.
One neighborhood was Brownsville. It's about a mile square. And many of its residents are young people who literally never leave that neighborhood unfortunately except when the young men go to jail. So we saw this cycle over and over again, and we were involved very directly in re-entry programs in that community in conjunction with the DA's office where it wasn't just the U.S. attorney's office, the DA's office talking to returning offenders about the costs of re-offending, it was also providing them with educational services, with family management services and information on housing and things that are such real barriers.
During the discussion, which touched on topics ranging from statistics on police killings to a bipartisan criminal-justice bill proposed Thursday in the Senate, Todd brought up a recent study about recidivism in New Orleans. In the study, researchers tracked 5,400 parolees in Louisiana after their release in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.