July 2010

The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010, introduced by Senator Jim Webb on March 26, 2009, will create a blue-ribbon commission charged with undertaking an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the criminal justice system. Its task will be to propose concrete, wideranging reforms to address the most pressing issues facing the nation’s criminal justice system. The bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 21, 2010, and is now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. The bill has 39 co-sponsors and has been endorsed by dozens of organizations from across the political spectrum. On April 27, 2010, companion legislation to the Senate bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Bill Delahunt [D-MA] and a bipartisan coalition of cosponsors. The bill was passed by the House on July 27, 2010.

• The United States has by far the world’s highest incarceration rate. With five percent of the world’s population, our country now houses twenty-five percent of the world’s reported prisoners. More than 2.38 million Americans are now in prison, and another 5 million remain on probation or parole. Our prison population has skyrocketed over the past two decades as we have incarcerated more people for non-violent crimes and acts driven by mental illness or drug dependence. The costs to our federal, state, and local governments of keeping repeat offenders in the criminal justice system continue to grow during a time of increasingly tight budgets. Existing practices too often incarcerate people who do not belong in prison and distract from locking up the more serious, violent offenders who are a threat to our communities. Transnational criminal activity, much of it directed by violent gangs and cartels from Latin America, Asia and Europe, has permeated the country. Mexican cartels alone now operate in more than 230 communities across the country. Mass incarceration of illegal drug users has not curtailed drug usage. The multi-billion dollar illegal drugs industry remains intact, with more dangerous drugs continuing to reach our streets. Incarceration for drug crimes has had a disproportionate impact on minority communities, despite virtually identical levels of drug use across racial and ethnic lines.

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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.

The Commission shall undertake a comprehensive review of all areas of the criminal justice system, including federal, state, local, and tribal governments’ criminal justice costs, practices, and policies. After conducting its review, the Commission shall make recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice.

The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010 has garnered wide support from Senate leadership, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Obama Administration. 39 Cosponsors (as of July 28, 2010): Sen. Mark Begich [D-AK] Sen. Jeff Bingaman [D-NM] Sen. Sherrod Brown [D-OH] Sen. Barbara Boxer [D-CA] Sen. Roland Burris [D-IL] Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin [D-MD] * Sen. Thomas R. Carper, [D-DE] Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr., [D-PA] Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL] * Sen. Al Franken [D-MN] * Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand [D-NY] Sen. Lindsey Graham [R-SC] * Sen. Kay Hagan [D-NC] Sen. Tom Harkin [D-IA] Sen. Orrin G Hatch, [R-UT] * Sen. John F. Kerry [D-MA] Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D-MN] Sen. Mary L. Landrieu [D-LA] Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg [D-NJ] Sen. Patrick J. Leahy [D-VT] * Sen. Carl Levin [D-MI] Sen. Blanche L. Lincoln [D-AR] Sen. Claire McCaskill [D-MO] Sen. Robert Menendez [D-NJ] Sen. Jeff Merkley [D-OR] Sen. Patty Murray [D-WA] Sen. Bill Nelson [D-FL] Sen. Harry Reid [D-NV] Sen. Bernard Sanders [I-VT] Sen. Charles E. Schumer [D-NY] * Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D-NH] Sen. Olympia Snowe [R-ME] Sen. Arlen Specter [D-PA] * Sen. Jon Tester, [D-MT] Sen. Mark Udall, [D-CO] Sen. Mark R. Warner [D-VA] Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI] * Sen. Ron Wyden [D-OR]

* Indicates Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee


- AdvoCare - American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - American Civil Liberties Union - Americans for Democratic Action - American Humanist Association - American Jail Association - The Association for Behavior Analysis International, Special Interest Group in Crime, Delinquency, and Forensic Behavior Analysis - American Probation and Parole Association - Attention Deficit Disorder Association - Biomass Coordinating Council of the American Council on Renewable Energy - Carnevale Foundation - Church of Scientology - The Coalition for Juvenile Justice - College Parents of America - Community Action Partnership - The Convict Criminology Group - Corporation for Supportive Housing - The Correctional Association of New York - Correctional Education Association - Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators - Criminon International - Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants – Chapter for Veterans - Disciples Justice Action Network - Drug Policy Alliance - Drug Reform Coordination Network - Families Against Mandatory Minimums - FedCURE - Fraternal Order of Police - Friends Committee on National Legislation - The Fortune Society, The David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy - Goodwill Industries - Haymarket Center - Human Rights Watch - The Innocence Project - The Inner Voices - Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative - International Association of Chiefs of Police - International Community Corrections Association

- International CURE – Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants - Just Detention International - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition - Leaders in Community Alternatives, Inc. (National Headquarters, CA) - Legal Action Center - Marijuana Policy Project - Methadone Support Organization - The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Sheperd - National African American Drug Policy Coalition - National Alliance of Faith and Justice - National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice - National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - National Association of Social Workers - National Black Policy Association - National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, Inc. - National Congress of Black Women, Inc. - National Correctional Industries Association - National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA - National Council on Crime and Delinquency, NCCD Center for Girls and Young Women - National Criminal Justice Association - National Disability Rights Network - Natioanl Employment Law Project - National HIRE Network - National Institutie for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma - National Lagal Aid & Defender Association - National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws - NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby - North American Family Institute - November Coalition - Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Washington Office - Providence Service Corporation (National Headquarters, AZ) - Safe Streets Arts Foundation

- The Safer Foundation - The Sentencing Project - Sex Abuse Treatment Alliance and CURE-SORT - Students for Sensible Drug Policy - Therapeutic Communities of America - Union for Reform Judaism

- Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations - United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries - United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society - The WestCare Foundation - Women of Reform Judaism

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