Congress: Bill to Do Top-to-Bottom Review of Criminal Justice System, Drug War Passes Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved Sen. Jim Webb's (D-VA) National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 on a unanimous voice vote Thursday. The bill would create a commission to conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of the country's criminal justice system and offer recommendations for reform at every level.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/jimwebb-smaller.jpg
Jim Webb at 2007 incarceration hearing (photo from sentencingproject.org)
Webb has been a harsh critic of national drug policies, and has led at least two hearings on the costs associated with current policies. The bill could create an opportunity to shine a harsh light on the negative consequences of the current policies.

An amendment offered by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and accepted by the committee stripped out the original bill's lengthy list of negative drug policy "findings" and replaced them with blander language, but left the bill's purpose intact.

Passage out of committee was applauded by sentencing reform advocates. "Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) commends the Senate Judiciary Committee for recognizing that the American criminal justice system needs an overhaul," said Jennifer Seltzer Stitt, FAMM federal legislative affairs director. "Any comprehensive reform of our criminal justice system must include eliminating mandatory minimum laws. One-size-fits-all mandatory drug sentencing laws enacted in the 1980s are responsible for filling prisons with low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, wasting millions in taxpayer dollars, and destroying public trust in the criminal justice system. The National Criminal Justice Commission can help right these wrongs by recommending mandatory sentencing reform."

The bill's prospects are uncertain. It faces a crowded calendar in the Senate and has made little progress in the House.

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The Senate Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved Sen. Jim Webb's (D-VA) National Criminal Justice Commission ...a long time coming!! let's hope something good comes out of this..all non-violent offenders of any kind should have alternatives to prison in any case, and stop costing taxpayers dollars.

Senator Webb

Senator Webb is the absolute best senator in Congress.

Kudos Senator Webb

Thank you Senator Webb for trying to bring reason and the ideals of social justice to try and change our archaic and draconian drug laws!!!

Triple Excited

WISH I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP WITH THIS ONE!!! Great work Senator Webb!

Laws

Lets hope someone from the the other side want give him some kind of sweet heart deal to back off of this attempt to change something so important as this. We all know that our Laws are created so that we are all one wrong move to be put away for a long time.Senator Webb is going to need to come up with a way to replace the jobs that will be lost after these unlawful laws are changed.Hey,I know keep
rapist and child molesters and other violent criminals Locked UP.Are unlawful Laws are ment to make criminals out of Hard working and tax paying people but it is easy to control the population with fear than to let them be FREE.

"The greatest service which can rendered any Country is to add a useful plant to its culture."
- Thomas Jefferson

Make the most of the Indian Hemp seed,and grow it EVERYWHERE.
- George Washington

Laws

That's all very well for rapists and child molesters and any violent crime that is perpetrated on another human being but to spend years of ones life in prison for smoking marijuana is worse then going to prison for drinking a glass of wine. It's just not a fair assessment of the law.

I would like to see narcotic

I would like to see narcotic use and production made legal.  I am really happy that there is serious legislative discussions and activity concerning drug policy.  My worry about easing jail time for users at this point is it will lead to more demand.  More demand will enrich the dealers/cartels if production remains illegal.  The growth of dealer/cartels and the problems they create could ultimately lead to set backs on efforts to end prohibition. 

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