Given the size, scope, and complexity of our system, how do we accomplish our mission and fulfill our core responsibilities?
Orderly operational security based on custody and control is foundational and has always been the agency’s strength. However, we can never take it for granted or become complacent. We must continue training and emphasizing the fundamentals.
Of course, operating an effective criminal justice agency is about more than security; custody and control, while absolutely necessary, are not enough to ensure success in the incarceration setting. Our focus should be on fulfilling every part of our mission and meeting our public safety responsibilities while being responsible stewards.
Everything from staffing our units and training our employees to providing offenders with appropriate healthcare, work programs and treatment opportunities is critical to our mission. Ensuring public safety, staff safety, and offender safety must be at the core of everything we do.
Many offenders in our system are repeat offenders and most will someday be released from our custody and supervision. Successfully reintegrating them into society is a critical element of our mission and is one key to public safety. The transition from incarceration to parole supervision requires handoffs and an understanding of the linkages within the system. Our success at getting an offender “street ready” prior to release impacts their success once on supervision. Providing coordinated resources, treatment, and sanctions through the incarceration, release and supervision process is what reentry is all about.
Our criminal justice system is extremely large and has many moving parts. We have only recently understood the linkages connecting the various parts of the system. The success we have in probation has a tremendous impact on the incarceration and parole pieces of the puzzle. Offenders on probation remain in the community and offer a rehabilitation opportunity at an early point in the system. To the extent we can keep them in the community while providing public safety, the whole system benefits.
Unfortunately, for every offender in the criminal justice system there are numerous victims. Part of our mission is to assist victims of crime. We must not forget that they are the ones who have paid the highest price; indeed some have paid the ultimate price.
The issues I have been discussing cannot simply be conceptual or philosophical. We must integrate them daily into one of the largest criminal justice systems in the world. Consequently, these items must be part of our operational culture and remain, or become, core competencies.
A sharp operational focus and an attention to detail regarding our approach to everything from mundane procedures to high level policy initiatives is required. We must foster a culture of operational excellence and accountability.
It begins with our staff. We have 39,000 of the hardest working, most dedicated public servants in the country. They are the most talented criminal justice professionals in the world. It is an honor to serve as their leader. It is my responsibility, and that of our outstanding executive staff, to provide them with the most specific, concrete, and focused leadership we can deliver. We have the responsibility to recruit, train and mentor them while providing the tools necessary to do the job.
We must conduct this important business in a straightforward, ethical fashion and always seek to do the right thing.
Once again, I want to thank you for the opportunity to lead this great organization.