"Today, America's federal prison population is experiencing a period of significant negative growth, with nearly 4,000 fewer inmates behind bars than at the end of the last fiscal year. This is the first major reduction in the federal prison population in three decades.
"Thanks to a variety of effective, evidence-based reentry programs and services, we're doing more than ever to ensure that the tens of thousands of federal inmates who return to their communities each year have access to the substance abuse treatment, job training, affordable housing, parenting education, and other resources that so many need to break the cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration.
"Through innovative strategies like the Justice Department's "Smart on Crime' initiative, we're working hard to tear down unnecessary barriers to opportunity and independence -- while building up programs that enable former prisoners to reintegrate into their communities. And nowhere is this work stronger than at the Federal Bureau of Prisons -- where groundbreaking efforts are underway to make our criminal justice expenditures both smarter and more productive.
"Today, I'm pleased to announce that the Justice Department -- through the Bureau of Prisons -- is taking a critical step forward that will enable us to build on this important work -- and improve the way reentry programming is implemented from coast to coast.
"For the first time, we will require all 200-plus halfway houses in the federal system to offer standardized treatment to prisoners with mental health and substance abuse issues. This treatment will be intensive, and must follow rigorous standards set forth by the Bureau of Prisons. Once fully implemented, these services will be available to every single one of the approximately 30,000 inmates who are released through halfway houses each year. This will ensure consistency and continuity of care between federal prisons and community-based facilities. And it will enhance the programs that help prisoners overcome their past struggles, get on the right path, and stay out of our criminal justice system.
"These important changes and others are codified in BOP's published requirements for halfway houses -- which will be posted online this week. Over the next 30 days, those who operate halfway houses will have the opportunity to provide feedback on these newly proposed requirements. And I encourage members of the public to visit this site, learn about these tools, and make your voices heard as well -- so we can all take an active part in constructing the more effective, more efficient, and more just system that everyone in this country deserves."