This week, Senator Jim Webb a Democrat from Virginia announced his intention not to seek re-election next year and reintroduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, which would create a blue-ribbon, bipartisan commission of experts charged with undertaking an 18-month top-to-bottom review of the nation’s criminal justice system and offering concrete recommendations for reform.
The bill, which was first introduced March 26, 2009, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 21, 2010, with 39 bipartisan cosponsors. On July 28, 2010, it passed the U.S. House of Representatives, with the support of Congressmen Bill Delahunt, a Democrat and Lamar Smith, a Republican.Despite strong bipartisan support, the bill was blocked in the Senate last year.
“This is not a political question; it is a leadership challenge that affects every community in the country and calls for us to act,” said Senator Webb. “We can be smarter about whom we incarcerate, improve public safety outcomes, make better use of taxpayer dollars, and bring greater fairness to our justice system.
“America has the highest documented rate of incarceration in the world, yet 60% of Americans feel less safe in their own neighborhoods than they did a year ago. We spend a staggering $68 billion every year just to keep people locked up, and we lose billions more in lost productivity due to the lack of proper re-entry programs, said Senator Webb.”
The Commission would study all areas of the criminal justice system including federal, state, local and tribal governments’ criminal justice costs, practices, and policies. After conducting the review, the Commission would make recommendations for changes in, or continuation of oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice.
The text of the new bill is available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/48441859/NatCrimJComissionAct112thCongress