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Reno, Janet (1938–)

Reno, Janet (1938–)

American lawyer and attorney general. Born in Miami, Florida, July 21, 1938; dau. of Henry Reno (police reporter for The Miami Herald) and Jane (Wood) Reno (investigative reporter for Miami News); Cornell University, AB in chemistry, 1960; Harvard University Law School, law degree, 1963; never married; no children.

One of 16 women in class of 500 at Harvard Law School, was elected state attorney for Dade County, the 1st woman to head a county prosecutor's office in Florida (1978); despite being a Democrat in a heavily Republican county, won 4 reelections; reformed the juvenile justice system, aggressively prosecuting child-abuse cases and pursuing delinquent fathers for child support; also established an innovative drug court in which non-violent offenders without records were not automatically sent to jail; though she became widely respected for her tough fair-mindedness and approachability, her tenure as chief prosecutor was seldom smooth; became 1st woman appointed attorney general of the US (1993) and served through 2 administrations (1993–2001); made her mark as a pioneer in law enforcement, gaining both admirers and detractors during an often volatile tenure as the nation's "top cop" in the Clinton administration; stood firm in her belief that prison is not necessarily the best response to criminal acts, strongly supported the strict principles of due process and protection of the innocent, advocated for reformation and community reintegration of youthful offenders, and demonstrated concern about the elimination of sexual and racial discrimination and about protection of the environment; unsuccessfully ran for governor of Florida (2001). Inducted into Women's Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls, New York (autumn 2000).

See also Women in World History.

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