WWW--Virginia Senator (and former Governor) Jim Webb has introduced a bill to create an 18-month commission to evaluate our criminal justice system "from top to bottom," noting that it's "a national disgrace," which is being euphemistic. The bill was introduced yesterday without much fanfare and is reputed to be "quietly supported" by the White House. This bodes very well for the prospects of the legislation and the timing of its introduction is purposeful and serious.
Republican Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) support the bill, and many others in the Senate are likely to follow.
But I believe he cares (amazing, isn't it?), and that he's doing something to reverse the damage of the Reagan era, an era where millions have been incarcerated under the failure known as the "war on drugs," really a racialist war on people. It should be remembered that our drug laws began as "race laws" and have continued this pattern of abuse that's reflected in American criminal justice statistics. Worse still, when Reagan closed our state-run mental health facilities, it threw the mentally ill onto the streets of American cities, then swept many of them into prisons to be housed with violent offenders. No society calling itself civilized would let this specific act of social negligence continue any longer.
Senator Webb notes on his Senate web site:
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.
Webb's social statistics are both shocking and solid, they check out, but we can assume that those who have enriched themselves through unconstitutional forfeiture, private prison building and ownership, investors in privatized prison labor that targets drug offender populations specifically for exploitation, sundry drug police equippers, and the rest of the drug war scum are going to fight this very hard. Bring it on.
I think these exploiters of social misery (who lamely call themselves "heroes") will lose their fight and that the tide has already turned against them and their allies inside and outside of Congress and the courts. Check Senator Webb's page and read the legislation, it's almost revolutionary in the best sense of the word, it's in the best spirit of America.
The Republicans are going to fight this and lose. They and police lobbyists who shouldn't have a right to lobby Congress for anything are going to keep saying what they always have: "If only we had more funding, we could win this!" With the funding we've given them, they should have been able to win WWII several times over. Yet--oddly--the victory never comes for the war that never ends. It's been said over and over that we could stamp-out the usage of illicit-drugs in America, but that it would take the creation of a police state to do it. That's what the advocates of continuing the war on drugs are suggesting in so many words. Their time is ending, now.
That's all the change I need to believe that real change is coming to America. Future generations might say that the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 was when America's "domestic" Cold War began to thaw. Let freedom ring, and let it ring true for us all. Legalization is coming, public statements to the contrary.