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The Honorable Russ Feingold
United States Senator
Senate Judiciary Committee
Statement of U.S Senator Russell Feingold
Good morning and thank you to the witnesses for being here today and to Chairman Leahy for holding this important hearing. I have long believed that the federal government has an important role to play in supporting state and local law enforcement, particularly when it comes to promoting innovative, cost-effective approaches to solving crime. This is particularly true as state governments struggle to address tremendous budget shortfalls and are slashing law enforcement positions in an effort to balance their budgets. We need to help state governments figure out how to do more with less.
In the last Congress, I introduced a bill called the Prevention Resources for Eliminating Criminal Activity Using Tailored Interventions in Our Neighborhoods Act, or the PRECAUTION Act. The bill uses a long title to highlight the very important principle that is the focus of this hearing today; it is better to invest in precautionary measures now than it is to pay the costs of crime - both in dollars and in lives - later on.
The PRECAUTION Act is based on the premise that the federal government should play three major roles in the fight against crime. First, it should develop and disseminate knowledge to state and local officials regarding the newest and most effective law enforcement techniques and strategies. Second, it should provide financial support for innovations that our state and local partners cannot afford to fund on their own. And third, the federal government should create and maintain, among agencies at all levels of government, effective partnerships to address specific law enforcement challenges.
The PRECAUTION Act fulfills these three principles by creating a national commission to wade through the sea of information on crime prevention and intervention strategies currently available and to identify those programs that are most ready for replication around the country. The Commission's results will create a simple, accessible resource for over-taxed law enforcement officials to turn to that recommends a few, top-tier crime prevention and intervention programs. It will be a resource that will single out existing programs that are truly "evidence-based" and have been proven to be effective.
The current fiscal climate makes it all the more necessary to ensure that we are using our limited resources as effectively and efficiently as possible. We need to demonstrate that every dollar invested in prevention will save hundreds of dollars in litigation, incarceration, and re-entry costs down the road. I think the PRECAUTION Act's approach is essential to achieving this goal, but it is just one tool. I am pleased to be here this afternoon to learn more about what our witnesses are experiencing in the field and any recommendations they might have for cost-effective strategies to reduce crime.