Reviewing Criminal Justice 

Reviewing Criminal Justice 
Posted by CN Staff on March 30, 2009 at 05:41:39 PT
Source: New York Times 
Washington, D.C. -- America’s criminal justice system needs repair. Prisons are overcrowded, sentencing policies are uneven and often unfair, ex-convicts are poorly integrated into society, and the growing problem of gang violence has not received the attention it deserves. For these and other reasons, a bill introduced last week by Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, should be given high priority on the Congressional calendar.The bill, which has strong bipartisan support, would establish a national commission to review the system from top to bottom. It is long overdue, and should be up and running as soon as possible.
The United States has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world. More than 1 in 100 adults are now behind bars, for the first time in history. The incarceration rate has been rising faster than the crime rate, driven by harsh sentencing policies like “three strikes and you’re out,” which impose long sentences that are often out of proportion to the seriousness of the offense.Keeping people in prison who do not need to be there is not only unjust but also enormously expensive, which makes the problem a priority right now. Hard-pressed states and localities that reduce prison costs will have more money to help the unemployed, avert layoffs of teachers and police officers, and keep hospitals operating. In the last two decades, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report, state corrections spending soared 127 percent, while spending on higher education increased only 21 percent.Meanwhile, as governments waste money putting the wrong people behind bars, gang activity has been escalating, accounting for as much as 80 percent of the crime in some parts of the country.The commission would be made up of recognized criminal justice experts, and charged with examining a range of policies that have emerged haphazardly across the country and recommending reforms. In addition to obvious problems like sentencing, the commission would bring much-needed scrutiny to issues like the special obstacles faced by the mentally ill in the system, as well as the shameful problem of prison violence.Prison management and inmate treatment need special attention now that the Prison Litigation Reform Act has drastically scaled back prisoners’ ability to vindicate their rights in court. Indeed, the commission should consider recommending that the law be modified or repealed.Mr. Webb has enlisted the support of not only the Senate’s top-ranking Democrats, including the majority leader, Harry Reid, but also influential Republicans like Arlen Specter, the ranking minority member on the Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham, the ranking member of the crime and drugs subcommittee.There is no companion bill in the House, and one needs to be written. Judging by the bipartisan support in the Senate, a national consensus has emerged that the criminal justice system is broken. A version of this article appeared in print on March 30, 2009, on page A28 of the New York edition.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Jeremy W. PetersPublished: March 28, 2009 - Page A28 Copyright: 2009 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Articles:Why We Must Fix Our Prisons Legalization Could Be Part Of Overhaul Webb's Courage
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Comment #2 posted by OuttaLuck on March 30, 2009 at 11:18:14 PT:
What happened...
to the land of the free..?
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on March 30, 2009 at 09:28:12 PT
It's the 'Merkin way!
I was in Devens, Mass. a medium security federal medical facility. This in Devens were pretty good. It was like the jewel of the BoP. All the dignitaries and bureaucratic shirts used to come and review the place, often. The story is this, the prisoners came there for various medical treatments. When and if , able they are sent back to wherever? It is the story these prisoners told that made my skin crawl.Here is what one of my cellies told me. He was doing 10 years for selling herbs. He was transferred to Devens from Ft. Dix. He said a lot of Mexican and other foreigners we housed there. He said they had to sleep 10 men in a 2 man cell. They slept under the bunk and all over the floor. People snore at night. Men get up in the middle of the night to relieve themselves.[The toilet is in the middle of the room] The were fed Mexican food 5 days a week. Everyone in the cell had gas all night long almost every day. Fights broke out in the cell in the middle of the night. Some handled themselves disgustingly right in front of everyone else. Often during lock down when they are fed in their cells, the bullies would take the food away from the smaller guys and eat it or flush it down the toilet just to antagonize. The feds are very callous about mixing violent prisoners with peaceful people who should not even be in there.My prayer is that the Son-of-Babs and the Great White Toad will one day experience this treatment since they were so willing to kill and imprison for profit. And that other profiteer, Babzilla! I'd love to see newsreels of her and Mr. Passive Aggressive, visiting their little sociopath in prison. Well I can dream can't I?
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