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Statement on Signing the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1970. .

January 02, 1971

I AM SIGNING into law today the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1970. The act authorizes appropriations for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration for another 3 years, and provides a number of improvements in LEAA's program. In America, law enforcement has been and must remain primarily the responsibility of State and local governments. However, the financial burden of carrying out this responsibility rests heavily upon these governments. They now spend more than $7 billion annually on programs to control crime.

Significantly, the legislation I am signing continues the important block grant approach of providing Federal financial assistance to hard-pressed State and local governments so that they can accomplish necessary improvements in their law enforcement and criminal justice activities. Under this concept, each State, in cooperation with local governments, sets the priorities and goals for law enforcement improvements in the State. Each State develops comprehensive plans and programs designed to attain their goals. This year I requested, and .the Congress appropriated, $480 million for the purpose of sharing the costs of carrying out the programs and projects included in the State plans.

This new legislation will not only permit us to continue to provide financial assistance to the States and cities for crime control, but will also enable LEAA to perform better its other valuable functions. Through a variety of changes in the law, these amendments will increase LEAA's ability to provide technical assistance to the States, to evaluate new law enforcement methods and techniques and disseminate useful information concerning them to those who can apply that knowledge, to collect information concerning the use to which LEAA funds have been put, and to assess the overall effectiveness of the LEAA program.

Our goal is the increased effectiveness of our criminal justice system in order to reverse the unacceptable trend of crime in our Nation. From our efforts in the Nation's Capital, we are already/earning that this trend can be reversed. By applying new techniques and adding resources, we have been able to halt--and even to reverse--the spiraling crime rate in the District of Columbia. LEAA has funded two major programs in the District, one to put more police on the streets, and the other to take more heroin addicts off the streets by a greatly expanded rehabilitation program. Court reform and corrections have also been strengthened through the regular block grant allocation. The District's experience strengthens our conviction that the resources and knowledge provided under this act can help free us from the crippling effects of crime.

While this law will assist our national crime reduction effort in many respects, I am particularly pleased with the emphasis placed on improving correctional pro. grams and facilities. Too frequently correctional systems in the United States breed crime instead of returning rehabilitated men to society. Some four out of every five felonies in the United States are committed by persons who already have had some contact with the criminal justice system. An FBI study has shown that two out of every three persons released from prison get into trouble with the law again. These statistics reflect deficiencies in our correctional system that can no longer be tolerated.

In November 1969, I proposed a 13-point program for improving correctional systems.1 I asked that special attention be given to certain categories of offenders such as juveniles, women, addicts, the mentally ill, and hard-core criminals. The new "Part E" of this act authorizes programs that can treat these categories of offenders. It recognizes the essential task of improving our entire correctional system. It recognizes the need to provide correctional programs in the community as well as in the institution. It will permit great improvements in our ability to provide adequate probation and parole services in this country. I will ask that additional funds be appropriated to provide assistance in these areas.

1 See 1969 volume, Item 437.

In the first 2 years of the LEAA program we have taken basic and essential steps toward our goal of reducing crime in America. The bill I have signed today will enable us to do more.

Crime inflicts an unacceptable degree of anguish upon law-abiding Americans. The criminal, too, is an individual who must be rehabilitated and given the opportunity for a truly constructive life. Because the prevalence of crime affects each and every person in very human terms, I am determined to ensure that our efforts succeed.

Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 17825) is Public Law 91-644 (84 Stat. 1880).

Richard Nixon, Statement on Signing the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1970. . Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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