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Webb Criminal Justice Commission Passes House by Unanimous Consent

Submitted by David Borden on

Big news from Washington today -- Senator Jim Webb's has just passed the US House of Representatives, by unanimous consent -- an important milestone that brings this important reevaluation of our dysfunctional policies in this area pretty darn close to being a reality.

Some of Sen. Webb's concerns that motivated the legislation -- shared no doubt by Rep. Bill Delahunt and his colleagues who championed the bill in the House -- from Webb's web page about the bill linked above:

  • 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.

Needless to say, my colleagues and I are psyched. Look for more details about the legislation and its prospects for the remaining stages in the legislative process in the Chronicle tomorrow or Thursday.

Update: In related news, the New York Times and the Washington Post this week and last called on Congress to address the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity.

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