US Senate Committee Passes The National Criminal Justice Act

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 21, 2010

    Earlier this morning the United State’s Senate, Committee on Judiciary, unanimously approved Senate Bill 714, The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009.

    NORML first blogged about this federal legislation back in November, and encouraged NORML supporters to contact their U.S. Senators in favor of this long-needed reform. Fortunately, many of you did so, and today the Senate Judiciary responded accordingly.

    As amended, Senate Bill 714 will establish a `National Criminal Justice Commission’ to hold public hearings and “undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, including Federal, State, local, and tribal governments’ criminal justice costs, practices, and policies. … The Commission shall make findings regarding such review and 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 at every step of the criminal justice system.”

    It’s been many years since a federally appointed commission has taken an objective look at American criminal justice policies, and it’s been nearly 40 years since federal lawmakers have undertaken a critical examination of U.S. drug policy. As affirmed by the bill’s chief sponsor, Democrat Senator Jim Webb of Virginia:

    America’s criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. … The United States has by far the world’s highest incarceration rate. With 5% of the world’s population, our country now houses nearly 25% of the world’s reported prisoners.

    … Drug offenders, most of them passive users or minor dealers, are swamping our prisons. … Justice statistics also show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Additionally, nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity. … African-Americans — who make up about 12% of the total U.S. population population — accounted for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison.

    … It is incumbent on our national leadership to find a way to fix our prison system.”

    NORML supporters can play a role in this ‘fix’ by contacting their U.S. Senators and urging them to support Senate Bill 714, The National Criminal Justice Commission Act. (Note, the measure must still be approved by the full Senate, and then the House of Representatives, before it can become law.)

    ‘Change we can believe in?’ It’s about damn time.

    57 responses to “US Senate Committee Passes The National Criminal Justice Act”

    1. Albyint says:

      This is almost enough to make me jump with joy. this may the beginning of the end of the drug war.

      Well, one can hope anyway.

    2. Jed The head says:

      Thanks to Senator Webb we may actually see true justice in this country again. Only poor people go to jail in America. Rarely does the likes of Bernie Madoff actually go to jail here. The numbers speak for them selves. Cannabis prohibition is purely a racist tool to incarcerate people of color. Shame on us for allowing this to happen in America the land of the not so free.

    3. Lea says:

      Two letters printed out and signed, ready to put in the mail tomorrow. Thanks NORML for making the letter writing easier.

      Did get a discouraging letter from Bennett in Utah two days ago over legalization. Sent it to you NORML.

      How about Senator Webb for President?
      He’d have my support.

    4. NORML is doing an excellent job by continuing to bring us these news stories & i urge your support of NORML .

      In other news i just signed a contract
      with Jeremy F. Lacy of :
      ” Cameo Entertainment Group ” a World – wide radio station based out of Massachusetts in which i will be delivering the TRUTH about marijuana to ( i think they said ) 3.4 million listeners Worldwide . I will have the power to change how the World thinks about Marijuana but now i got to learn all about the Audio stuff first so it’ll take some time before hopefully i am on the air . When I’m there i ask for your support & listenership .

      We will defeat the Great Satan with his many lies and deceptions. & free all those who numbers are many who have been prosecuted by simple Marijuana crimes . Prosecuting anyone for a gift given by God ( Marijuana ) is truly the work of the Devil .

    5. Brett says:

      a unanimous vote? did that seriously just happen? a unanimous vote on something GOOD. As Paul Armentano just said “It’s about damn time” indeed.

    6. ol tex says:

      Wow. A unanimous vote for a policy reform that makes sense. Could it be that our representatives are actually “getting it”? The only ones these days who want to keep things as they are are those whose jobs depend on locking people up and “dyed in the wool” conservatives who still equate drugs with evil while drinking their martinis and popping pills. The drug war makes about as much sense as a war on aspirin.
      We hear a lot about the death toll in wars overseas but I see a deliberate lack of coverage on the 8000 or so people who have died on the Mexican border. Think about it, that is a lot of dead people right here at home and lets not forget all the millions who have had contact with our police. Should we refer to them as POW’s?

    7. Atlanta Toker says:

      Congratulations Senator Webb. Very well done sir, stay the course.

    8. John says:

      I hope they take a good look at Texas. Here in Brown county a guy just got life in prison for selling drugs while a murdering preacher in east Texas only got 65 years for killing his wife. As far as the guy with the drugs it was his 5th time or so and it was meth but he still shouldn’t have gotten life. People here get extra long sentences for any drug while real criminals get off easy. If your not white it’s even worse. Not only that, if you are convicted for drugs you can never get food stamps or medicade but you can if you murder, rape, steal or anything else. Texas might talk about suceding but they deserve to be thrown out of the union, except there are some good people here who cant afford to move.

    9. John says:

      Now it looks like we need to do something about the supreme court. unfortunately there isn’t anything we can do. The ruling that lets corporations spend as much as they want on campagn ads has turned America into a fascist nation overnight. Corporatism is fascism.

    10. Bucky-Badazz says:

      ya right we will never see legalization, when pigs can fly !!!!, Oh yah!, Swine Flew!!!!

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