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House Passes National Criminal Justice Commission Act

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #642)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The US House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill, HR 5143, Monday night that would create a national commission to study the US criminal justice system and make recommendations for reform. Bulging prison populations, draconian drug war policies, and racial disparities in the criminal justice system will all be on the table for the commission.

Bill Delahunt, championed the Webb bill in the House of Representatives
The bill was sponsored by Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA) and passed under an expedited process that assumes unanimity if no members object. None did.

The bill is a companion bill to one sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), who in his first term in the Senate has convened a series of forums on the state of the criminal justice system. The Webb bill has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and is likely to see a Senate floor vote this fall.

"It is a sign of how quickly the tide has turned against punitive criminal justice policies that this bill passed without opposition," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Prisons are overflowing at great taxpayer expense, in large part because of the failed war on drugs, and members of Congress are finally saying enough is enough, we need ideas for reform."

"Today's vote shows Congress is aware that our nation's criminal justice system is in need of major repair," said Julie Stewart, director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. "With 2.3 million people in its jails and prisons, the United States has the highest incarceration in the world. One of out of 31 Americans is under some sort of correctional supervision -- jail or prison, parole or probation. Brave though we may be, we are no longer the land of the free," continued Stewart.

"The House has spoken decisively. Now it is time for Senators to act," Piper said. "Sen. Webb's and Rep. Delahunt's bipartisan commission legislation needs to be passed quickly before the war on drugs and punitive criminal justice system bankrupt our country and destroy more lives."

"We know too much about crime and rehabilitation, and about what works and what doesn't work with regard to recidivism, to continue to mindlessly sentence minor offenders to long prison sentences and inflexible mandatory minimum penalties," said Stewart. "The moral bankruptcy of such policies is now being compounded by the fiscal bankruptcy it is visiting upon the state and federal governments. We applaud the House for taking this enormous step, and we look forward to seeing this bill through until it reaches the president's desk before the 111th Congress adjourns," Stewart concluded.

If passed by the Senate and approved by the president, the legislation will create a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the entire criminal justice system and offer concrete recommendations for reform within 18 months. Like its House counterpart, the Webb bill has strong bipartisan support. Among its 37 cosponsors are Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), ranking minority member Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), and Judiciary Committee member Sen. Orrin Hatch (D-UT).

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Nedmorlef (not verified)

Moral Bankruptcy was definitely behind the making of the drug laws. The way in which, they were written is proof in itself that, the draconian effect was no accidental intent of the laws. Guilty property,rubber stamped no knock warrants,dead puppies,no due process courts and mandatory minimum sentences for consumption.

The Bible even says that "it's not what goes in a man's mouth that defiles him. it's what comes out of a man's mouth that defiles him". Therefore, I know in my heart & conscience that, the founding fathers inspiration never intended for men to control what other men eat,drink or smoke.

The gov't's position that, interstate commerce somehow justifies the entrance into the most private of all private areas. The underwear which, is where they ultimately end with the power of the drug war . Of which is also covered under the "PERSONS" part of the 4th amendment of the U S Constitution. Shows the more complex their story the more likely it's a lie.

Legalization is huge for our true freedom. The American sheeple will see how out of touch with America the politicians really are. We will see how much they've lied.

G W Bush will find out it wasn't God he was talking too.

What will the drug warriors say when their favorite scapegoat is gone? What will they do with themselves with no more eggs to fry? What percentage of the 150 raids a day on American homes will end and what will be their new lie?

Think about it. The entire drug war was singly dimensional. These people have no strategy for any thing else. Millions will lose their pot demonizing dependent jobs.

Let's not forget these traitors to the Constitution. Mark them. They're not finished destroying America. A termite must destroy by nature. They'll need another victim. That includes the police.

Somebody has to be the nigger of society. The jews, the blacks,the hippies or the beatniks. Any group that will divide the classes. Somebody has to be a pinata full of prizes .

They need to keep their taser marksmanship sharp. Got to keep those baton holsters loose or they may harden & crack. Snipers need practice. So do those guerillas that, toss flash bangs & bust down doors with one fell swoop.

With no intention of dragging a point. Let's not forget the skill it takes to gun down a fleeing shitzu without hitting your codefen...coworkers with ricochets.

Who's going to fill those private prisons?

I'm not trying to get ahead of legalization however, we need to understand that after a war there's reconstruction, cleanup of the bodies, prosecution of the war crimes. Only this time it will be up to the people to oversee that justice is done. Our elected? leaders? are too morally bankrupt.

Tue, 08/03/2010 - 11:37am Permalink
Daniel Palos (not verified)

Unemployment compensation that conforms to existing at-will employment laws, a federal doctrine, and the Ninth Amendment to our supreme Law of the Land could solve our social dilemma of official poverty.  It could be funded through the power to Regulate Commerce among the several States of the Union, since, by no latitude of construction does our federal Congress retain the power to Prohibit Commerce among the several States of the Union (except for DC and other federal property) since the repeal of that only delegated power.

"A 2008 study by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron has estimated that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy — $44.1 billion from law enforcement savings, and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenue ($6.7 billion from marijuana, $22.5 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs).[49][50] Recent surveys help to confirm the consensus among economists to reform drug policy in the direction of decriminalization and legalization.[51]"


Sat, 08/07/2010 - 11:46pm Permalink
tempname_41158 (not verified)

In reply to by Daniel Palos (not verified)

Let's not forget the leviathan in the room: 


Self evident and accepted by all without any question that the one MAJOR FIRST PRIORITY QUESTION, BY FAR with regard to the unsustainable ballooning deficit is the rising and generally assumed irresistible growth of health care spending.  If Life is infinitely precious, then any limit to collective spending for it cannot be even considered.    This inflationary growth in health care costs is irrevocably intertwined in the established medical [political/religious] culture. 


Also undisputed:


The irresistible demographic bulge of aging baby boomers [my generation] and equally certain [or rather less elastic] propensity for all bodily components to fail, accompanied by the escalation of pain and suffering.  Pretentious high tech medicine is about to confront the reality of unforgiving natural law in a big way.  Especially when it comes to end of life issues.  The path of less resistance will have to be "comfort care" over the futility of the attempt to endlessly prevent the inevitable.  Dealing with our death denying culture is simply a matter of time.


When grandma, after enduring endless hours of gut wrenching family debate,  finally realizes what she is up against, she will reach over and pull the plug herself!  We are, at exponential acceleration, approaching an era in which the living will envy the dead.  Eventually the inevitable conclusion will need to be acknowledged:


The proper first goal of medicine is to alleviate suffering.   We will eventually recognize that even the medical practice of the nineteenth century trumps the absurdity we have now.  Despite objection of the MDs [medical deities] Ultimately "Quality of Life" must trump "Quality of Care".   Time to grow up, shed our patronizing, unsustainable collective delusion and validate the legitimate importance of palliative care available for all without explanation or justification. 


Bobby Bear

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 5:10pm Permalink
Jose L. (not verified)

Very interesting and informative.

Mon, 05/09/2011 - 11:17pm Permalink

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