The title comes from an op-ed article by Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia. He goes on to say: “…
–We find ourselves as a nation in the midst of a profound, deeply corrosive crisis that we have largely been ignoring at our peril. The scope of the problem is vast: We have 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s known prison population. More than 7 million Americans are incarcerated, on probation, or on parole; 2.27 million Americans are in prison–five times the world’s average incarceration rate. At the same time, two-thirds of Americans say there is more crime today than a year ago.
The disintegration of our criminal justice system, day by day and year by year, and the movement toward mass incarceration–with very little attention being paid to clear standards of prison administration or meaningful avenues of re-entry for those who have served their time–are dramatically affecting millions of lives. They are draining billions of dollars from our economy, destroying notions of neighborhood and family in hundreds of communities across the country, and–most importantly–not making our country a safer or a fairer place….”
In theory “…Since first introducing the National Criminal Justice Commission Act in 2009, my office has worked tirelessly to build the case for reform with groups from across the philosophical and political spectrum. Through these efforts, we have won the support of more than 100 organizations, including the National Association of Evangelicals, Prison Fellowship, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Sentencing Project, and the NAACP.
Many of these organizations, including a recent delegation of faith leaders and law enforcement representatives, have met with their elected representatives to voice support for the bill. We need to take a comprehensive look at our criminal justice system. As a nation, we can spend our money more effectively, make our communities safer, reduce the prison population, and create a fairer system…..”
However, it was the very law enforcement community itself that defeated the proposal last year in the senate under the guise of preventing the federal government from intervening in states’ rights. I would and will argue that there is too much money tied up into the criminal justice system the way it is for their to be any hope of meaningful change. I will use the example of the state of Florida finding a way to keep the state prison in Jefferson county open. Not because it was an old valueless prison but because it was the main economic engine for the county. To keep prisons open means that they have to be filled.
To read more of Sen Jim Webb’s article:THIS IS A CRISIS: WITHOUT PRISON REFORM, THE VERY FABRIC OF OUR NATION IS AT RISK