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MONDAY, MARCH 9, 1998202/307-0703



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than 700 community leaders, criminal justice professionals and government officials from across the nation gathered here today at a conference sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to discuss ways to transform the way the criminal justice system works with communities.

"The justice system has for too long been divorced and remote from the lives of people across America," said Attorney General Janet Reno during an open forum at the "Community Justice: Transforming the System to Serve Communities" conference. "I am so glad that this conference focuses on the need to forge closer connections between the justice system and the community because the community is where progress is being made."

The Attorney General challenged conference participants to continue to think differently about the criminal justice system, build partnerships that include everyone who has an impact on crime and the delivery of services, and to share power and responsibility with the community.

"When we talk about implementing community justice, there's no road map, no federal blueprint, and there shouldn't be," added Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for OJP. "This is not a 'Washington knows best' program. We are drawing the road map together and learning from each other what works and what doesn't."

Community justice is a concept that has gained increasing momentum in recent years. It emphasizes taking an aggressive approach to addressing the needs of the justice system's primary customers -- the citizens it serves.

"Community justice is building on the success of community policing to include a problem-solving approach to community prosecution, citizen outreach, courts and corrections," said Joseph Brann, Director of the Department's COPS Office. "This is an encouraging trend in public safety and crime prevention."

Attendance at this second national community justice conference was more than double that of the first conference held in September 1996. The conference, which began yesterday and will continue through tomorrow, provides an opportunity for traditional criminal justice professionals to meet with community leaders to continue exploring the definition of community justice, discuss community concerns and share innovative community justice programs.

For more information about OJP and its component agencies' programs, visit the OJP homepage at, or call the National Criminal Justice Reference Service toll-free on 1-800/851-3420.



After hours, contact: Linda Mansour on 202/616-3534 or page on 1-888/582-6750