David Borden alerts us that Virginia Senator Jim Webb's National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 passed the House of Representatives with unanimous consent.
Be sure to check out Senator Webb's home page for this issue. There he provides lots of reasons and links:
From that page:
Why We Urgently Need this Legislation:
- With 5% of the world's population, our country now houses 25% of the world's reported prisoners.
- Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980.
- Four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals.
- Approximately 1 million gang members reside in the U.S., many of them foreign-based; and Mexican cartels operate in 230+ communities across the country.
- Post-incarceration re-entry programs are haphazard and often nonexistent, undermining public safety and making it extremely difficult for ex-offenders to become full, contributing members of society.
America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. Its irregularities and inequities cut against the notion that we are a society founded on fundamental fairness. Our failure to address this problem has caused the nation's prisons to burst their seams with massive overcrowding, even as our neighborhoods have become more dangerous. We are wasting billions of dollars and diminishing millions of lives.
We need to fix the system. Doing so will require a major nationwide recalculation of who goes to prison and for how long and of how we address the long-term consequences of incarceration.
One of the main questions to me is, can they get past the conflict-of-interest inherent in the for-profit prison industry? Or will greed bog down the process and pervert it again or even more?!