OUR MISSION STATEMENT
To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.
ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT
The Office of the Attorney General was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789 (ch. 20, sec. 35, 1 Stat. 73, 92-93), as a one-person part-time position. The Act specified that the Attorney General was to be “learned in the law,” with the duty “to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned, and to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President of the United States, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments, touching any matters that may concern their departments.”
However, the workload quickly became too much for one person, necessitating the hiring of several assistants for the Attorney General. As the work steadily increased along with the size of the new nation, private attorneys were retained to work on cases.
By 1870, after the end of the Civil War, the increase in the amount of litigation involving the United States had required the very expensive retention of a large number of private attorneys to handle the workload. A concerned Congress passed the Act to Establish the Department of Justice (ch. 150, 16 Stat. 162), creating “an executive department of the government of the United States” with the Attorney General as its head.
Officially coming into existence on July 1, 1870, the Department of Justice was empowered to handle all criminal prosecutions and civil suits in which the United States had an interest. To assist the Attorney General, the 1870 Act also created the Office of the Solicitor General, who represents the interests of the United States before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 1870 Act remains the foundation for the Department’s authority, but the structure of the Department of Justice has changed over the years, with the addition of the offices of Deputy Attorney General, Associate Attorney General, and the formation of various components, offices, boards and divisions. From its beginning as a one-man, part-time position, the Department of Justice has evolved into the world’s largest law office and the chief enforcer of federal laws.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The most sacred of the duties of government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.” This sacred duty remains the guiding principle for the women and men of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Programs and Innitiatives
Below are a variety of subject matter areas, initiatives, and programs handled by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Justice Asset Forfeiture Program includes activity by Department of Justice components and several components outside the Department. Each component plays an important role in the Program.
The mission of the Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s seniors.
Find information on the important work being done in environmental justice, including a series of recent environmental justice listening sessions with community members and groups across the country, as well as results achieved in particular cases.
Combatting hate crimes is one of the Department of Justice’s highest priorities. The Department of Justice combats hate crimes through prevention, education, outreach, data collection, and support for state, local, and tribal law enforcement. This website is designed to provide a centralized portal for the Department of Justice’s hate crimes resources for law enforcement, media, researchers, victims, advocacy groups, and other related organizations and individuals. The resources include training materials, technical assistance, videos, research reports, statistics, and other helpful information from all the Department of Justice components working on hate crimes.
The opioid crisis is the deadliest drug crisis in American history. Find facts, resources, and news about what the Department of Justice is doing to combat the opioid crisis.
Human Trafficking is a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex.
The Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property is part of a Department-wide initiative to confront the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property (IP) crimes.
The mission of the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism is to support U.S. victims of terrorism overseas by helping them navigate foreign criminal justice systems and by advocating for their voices to be heard around the world.
The Open Government Directive directs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to implement the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration. Open Data and Plan Language information is also available here.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers. Today, the OCDETF Program is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General’s drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises.
Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.
Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide initiative that brings together federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community leaders to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.
The Task Force is part of a government-wide initiative to combat fraud against consumers – particularly the elderly, service members, and veterans – and corporate fraud that victimizes the general public and the government.
Learn about the Department of Justice’s work to support law enforcement and maintain public safety in Indian Country.