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Justice Department - Department Structure

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The DOJ is composed of several different units, including divisions, bureaus, and offices. The government's legal business is handled by the department's six litigating divisions: Antitrust, Civil, CIVIL RIGHTS, Criminal, Environment and Natural Resources, and Tax. Each of these divisions is headed by an assistant attorney general. These divisions handle cases involving the United States that have a broad legal impact.

Nationwide, the government is represented by ninety-five U.S. attorneys, who conduct all federal court cases and some federal investigations in their districts. Each state has at least one

U.S. attorney, and some of the larger states are divided into districts that each have a U.S. attorney. The U.S. attorneys handle the majority of cases in which the federal government is a party. Although the U.S. attorneys report to the DOJ, they traditionally operate with a fair amount of independence and autonomy. Each U.S. attorney is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate to a four-year term.

Several bureaus within the DOJ are concerned with various aspects of law enforcement. The U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE (USMS) is the country's oldest law enforcement agency, having begun as a group of 13 marshals appointed by GEORGE WASHINGTON; today the USMS has 95 marshals and is primarily responsible for providing court security, transporting prisoners, apprehending fugitives, protecting witnesses, and executing federal court orders. The FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI) is the government's major investigatory agency and the largest unit within the DOJ; the FBI pursues information concerning federal violations, collects evidence in cases involving the United States, and performs other duties assigned by law or by the president. The DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION (DEA) combats drug trafficking, investigating major drug dealers, helping to prepare cases against them, and helping foreign governments pursue drug dealers. Also under the DOJ's umbrella are the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), which oversees the federal prison system, and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), which administers crime prevention and deterrence programs.

The DOJ also houses several offices that provide administrative support functions. These include the Office of Legislative Affairs, which coordinates the DOJ's relationship with Congress; the Office of Legal Counsel, which helps the attorney general to furnish legal advice to the president; the U.S. Parole Commission, which administers the parole system for federal prisoners; the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees, which administers the handling of BANKRUPTCY cases; and the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, which handles cases against foreign governments for losses sustained by U.S. citizens.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics is another important DOJ office. The bureau, which was established in 1979, is responsible for the collection and analysis of criminal justice statistics at the state and federal level. It issues ANNUAL REPORTS on criminal victimization, populations under correctional supervision, and federal criminal offenders and case processing. It also issues periodic reports on the administration of law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities, prosecutorial practices and polices, state court case processing, felony convictions, characteristics of correctional populations, criminal justice expenditure and employment, and civil case processing in state courts.

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