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The White House
For Immediate Release

Attorney General and White House Drug Policy Director Attend Opening of Women’s Re-entry Program

Chattanooga, TN – Today, Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Drug Control Policy Director, Gil Kerlikowske joined public health and law enforcement officials in Chattanooga to commemorate the grand opening of a new transitional housing and services center in Tennessee.

The Next Door Chattanooga’s “Release Center” will provide reentry services for up to 30 currently incarcerated female offenders in Tennessee. Eligible offenders who are within 30 to 120 days of release will receive residential, on-site case management services and release readiness programming that addresses the specific needs of the offender, including employment readiness, life skills, cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse support, and family reunification services.

The pilot program was established in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Correction and the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole. A portion of the funding for the Release Center was provided through a grant to the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programming, which was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“By developing effective, evidence-based re-entry programs like the Release Center, we can provide critical assistance to those returning to society while improving public safety and community well-being,” said Attorney General Holder. “Re-entry programs help achieve successful transitions back into the community and reduce recidivism, save taxpayer dollars and build safer communities."

“Re-entry programs like the ‘Release Center’ fulfill an important need by getting women the support they need as they transition from jail or prison back to family and their community,” said Gil Kerlikowske. “This program will restore dignity, inspire hope and move women and families towards reaching their American dream.”

With nearly 750,000 offenders leaving jails and prisons every year, a renewed focus on alternatives to incarcerations and the expansion of re-entry support services are major components of the Obama Administration's effort to implement a public health approach to reducing drug abuse and its consequences.

As part of this effort, Attorney General Holder has convened the Administration’s “Reentry Council” to identify and advance effective public safety and prisoner reentry strategies. The Reentry Council will meet semi-annually to leverage resources across Federal agencies to reduce recidivism and victimization; identify evidence-based practices that advance the Council’s mission; and seek changes to Federal policies, regulations or practices to improve outcomes for the reentry population. President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget requests support from Congress for a variety of programs and strategies that increase efficiencies in the criminal justice system, including alternatives to incarceration and drug education.