Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Friday, March 27, 2009

National Criminal Justice Commission Act

Jim Webb introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act yesterday. 

Sen. Jim Webb, fresh off his passage of an historic expansion of the GI Bill, has found a new issue: the criminal justice system. And when Webb, a Virginia Democrat, sets his legislative sites on a priority, his colleagues pay attention.

On Thursday, Webb, along with the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), introduced a bill to create a commission that would undertake an 18-month study of the criminal justice system and come back with legislative recommendations.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Webb said that everything should be considered. And he means everything.

"I think everything should be on the table, and we specifically say that we want recommendations on how to deal with drug policy in our country. And we'll get it to the people who have the credibility and the expertise and see what they come up with," said Webb.

What about legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana?

Webb paused. "I think they should do a very careful examination of all aspects of drug policy. I've done a couple of very extensive hearings on this, so we'll wait to see what they say about that," he said.

So it's on the table? Webb flashed a wry grin, laughing mischievously.

The last government study group to look at drug policy, the 1972 Shafer Commission, recommended that President Richard Nixon decriminalize marijuana. He didn't.

The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 that I introduced in the Senate on March 26, 2009 will create a blue-ribbon commission to look at every aspect of our criminal justice system with an eye toward reshaping the process from top to bottom. I believe that it is time to bring together the best minds in America to confer, report, and make concrete recommendations about how we can reform the process.

Why We Urgently Need this Legislation:

  • 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.

America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. Its irregularities and inequities cut against the notion that we are a society founded on fundamental fairness. Our failure to address this problem has caused the nation's prisons to burst their seams with massive overcrowding, even as our neighborhoods have become more dangerous. We are wasting billions of dollars and diminishing millions of lives. 

We need to fix the system. Doing so will require a major nationwide recalculation of who goes to prison and for how long and of how we address the long-term consequences of incarceration.


Anonymous said...

Senator Webb is on the right track. I am only sorry its going to take 18 months to study what we all know already. 1. Legalize and tax drugs. 2 quit locking up non violent people. 3. Release immediately all the non violent people in the state and federal prison's. 4. set up treatment and education programs with the drug tax collected. djw

Anonymous said...

It is about time.

Anonymous said...