Webbs Bent on Correcting Broken Corrections System
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Webbs Bent on Correcting Broken Corrections System
Posted by CN Staff on June 12, 2009 at 08:12:03 PT
By Bill Sizemore, The Virginian-Pilot
Source: Virginian-Pilot
USA -- It is an immodest goal for a freshman senator: Reshape America's entire criminal justice system. But Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., waded boldly into the task Thursday, declaring the present system a "national disgrace" in need of a radical overhaul.It is also a politically risky goal. Webb has moved to minimize the risk by reaching wide across the political spectrum for support.
The bill he introduced in March to create a blue-ribbon criminal justice reform commission has attracted 28 Senate co-sponsors. They are mostly Democrats, but the list also includes a few prominent Republicans, such as Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.The witness list at the first subcommittee hearing on the bill Thursday included representatives from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and Prison Fellowship, the Christian prison ministry founded by convicted Watergate figure Chuck Colson.It is in the interest of every American, from every political and philosophical perspective, to address "a profound, deeply corrosive crisis that we have largely been ignoring at our peril," Webb told his colleagues.That crisis - particularly the nation's drift toward mass incarceration - "is dramatically affecting millions of lives, draining billions of dollars from our economy, destroying notions of neighborhood and family in hundreds of communities across the country, and, most importantly, it is not making our country a safer or a fairer place," he said.The statistics are startling:- The United States has 5 per-cent of the world's population but 25 percent of its prison population: more than 2.3 million inmates and climbing.- Half a million of those are drug offenders, many of them with no history of violence or high-level trafficking.- Racial disparities are stark. African Americans account for 14 percent of drug users and 74 percent of drug offenders sentenced to prison.- Four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons as in mental hospitals.At Thursday's hearing, most agreed that the dramatic rise in the nation's imprisoned population - a fivefold increase over the past three decades - has failed to achieve its objective."We call it a correctional system, but we all know it doesn't correct," said Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on crime and drugs.The most impassioned testimony came from someone with firsthand experience: Pat Nolan, vice president of Prison Fellowship, a former California state legislator who spent 29 months in federal prison after getting caught in an FBI sting for campaign finance violations."What I saw inside prison really troubled me," Nolan said, describing widespread rape, disease and overcrowding. Most inmates are simply being warehoused, he said. There is little training or treatment, making it hard for them to find a job when they get out and raising the chances that they will return to prison.The cost to taxpayers is staggering, Nolan said: $68 billion and rising.Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton said communities need to focus on preventing crime, not just responding to it. "There are too many people in prison who don't need to be there," he said, citing the mentally ill as an example.The time is ripe for reform, said Charles Ogletree, a professor at Harvard Law School. "You can be smart on crime and save a lot of money," he said.The commission Webb proposes would conduct an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the criminal justice system and make recommendations for reform. Among its objectives would be to reduce the incarceration rate, establish re-entry programs for ex-offenders, reform the nation's drug policies and improve treatment of the mentally ill.The bill is the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, SB 714. It is unknown how soon the subcommittee will act on it.Source: Virginian-Pilot (VA)Author: Bill Sizemore, The Virginian-PilotPublished: June 12, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Virginian-PilotContact: bill.sizemore pilotonline.comURL: Articles: A Drug War Truce? The War on Drugs: The Moment is Now
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Comment #6 posted by ekim on June 12, 2009 at 19:43:59 PT
It must happen. It must.:) it will:)
Howard on the Hill Stories from the week of June 12, 2009 Shhhhh - Don’t wake the dogs: Arriving only 30 minutes early I got the last seat in the Senate hearing room for Webb’s bill S- 714. Since this was the bill I have been waiting 3 + years for, I was hanging* on every word of the four witnesses. During 90 minutes of testimony I heard Los Angeles PD Chief Bratton utter* these words in the middle of a mostly boring/no new information speech…’and our unrealistic drug policy.’ That was the sum total of words about Modern Prohibition. After the hearing I asked a respected colleague who has been around as long as John McCain* about the lack of testimony on Modern Prohibition/War on Drugs. ‘Don’t wake the dogs, don’t give any red meat for the media and opponents to smell and go after. At this stage keep it boring and simple.’  And it was. WTG Team Webb.* Public safety matters:  At a gathering of Republicans I was able to ask my local sheriff whether he would support a new law in Maryland; namely catch & release* for simple possession of marijuana. Without prompting, the Sheriff responded that the change would improve public safety by keeping his deputies on the road and not in central booking.*  I suggested one ounce or less. He countered with half ounce. Done, I said.  I have turned this information over to my colleague who works the legislature in Maryland and a state politician who focuses on changing criminal law. If adopted state-wide, my profession would be able to arrest more drunk drivers & save 1-2 lives each year. Works for me. Git r dun.* The Hill amplifies one’s voice:  With all the activity this spring I overlooked letting you know that the most popular paper on the Hill (The Hill) published my first LTE in late April. Calvina Fay was quoted in an article: “Pot Legalization favored by some to stem violence” on April 19th. Fay stated that legalization would do nothing because the Mexican Cartels would not just disappear.  Here is what The Hill published: Marijuana Legalization : Jobs program for thugs*By Howard J. Wooldridge, education specialist, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition: “If I understand Calvina Fay correctly, we should continue marijuana prohibition as a jobs program for thugs.  She said the Mexican Cartels will ‘not fall in line’ if we legalized.  Based on my 18 years of police experience, there is only one headline that will strike terror into the hearts of the Mexican Cartels: ‘Congress repeals Modern Prohibition.’  What Calvina Fay said was sweet music to their ears.” * central booking = Büro des Gefängnis*utter = sagen*hanging on = wartet sehr anstrengend auf*John McCain = es bedeutet, seit Ewigkeit – sehr lang*WTG = Way to go! = gut gemacht*catch & release = finden und nur einen Strafzettel schreiben, nicht verhaften und im Gefängnis bringen* Git R Dun – sprichwort = Get it Done = Schaff was*thugs = Hart Verbrechern Howard Officer Howard 'Cowboy' Wooldridge (retired)Founding Member of LEAP - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( Washington, DCHablo espanol, je parle francais, Deutsch auch Howard J. WooldridgePOB 543Buckeystown, MD 21717817-975-1110 Cellhowardwooldridge0 The War on Drugs is the most destructive, dysfunctional & immoral domestic policy since slavery and Jim Crow. 
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 09:26:21 PT
I agree with you. I remember all too well what Reagan did.
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on June 12, 2009 at 09:25:18 PT
It must happen. It must.
"The commission Webb proposes would conduct an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the criminal justice system and make recommendations for reform. Among its objectives would be to reduce the incarceration rate, establish re-entry programs for ex-offenders, reform the nation's drug policies and improve treatment of the mentally ill."
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on June 12, 2009 at 09:05:15 PT
I meant to say.........
"the criminal justice system [a misnomer if ever there was one]."
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Comment #2 posted by Runruff on June 12, 2009 at 09:02:44 PT
Addicted to drug policy!
"Four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons as in mental hospitals."Reagan as gov of Calif. shut down most mental facilities in the state. He was a cruel, ambitious, incompetent man!The mentally challenged were gradually picked up by the criminal system [a misnomer if ever there was one]. Repubs look at the profit margins in all cases. Even the caging of innocent human beings for profit is good business!-Ala Babara Bush!
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 08:48:40 PT
Senator Webb
I really like his gruff disposition but his soft heart.
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