There is little need to add much commentary today, as the honorable Senator James Webb says it all with the introduction of this legislation. Senator Webb's website has a wealth of resources and commentary, too. From the website:
The National Criminal Justice 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.
As The World's Laura Lynch reports, Mr. Obama is now signaling a big shift away from the Bush administration's global, anti-drug policies. Interesting to me is his signal came back to me from abroad -- President Obama announcing his support for needle exchange, and at least some forms of 'harm reduction' when United Nations drug strategy negotiations were near collapse earlier this week.
Before the election I began to look for projects and programs that our President, and First Lady were 'tied-to." It was obvious that Ameri-Corps was one of those projects and though the program is attributed to Kennedy, Clinton and Bush -- it's true beginnings was FDR's Civillian Conservation Corps of the 1930's. I've a hunch today's Ameri-Corp doesn't want to leave people with the image and message that restoring public resources is a largely rural project. It's not.
The latest economic stimulus package has a One Billion Dollar Federal prison construction allowance in it. Just what we need do not need to stimulate the economy. Here is a better set of plans to stimulate the economy. Prisons are part of gray -- not green industry. Public safety should replace tough on crime rhethoric, the social science does.
That one billion? Re-launching the Civillian Conservation Corps would save billions and begin saving immediately.
Decarceration - Plan One
My favorite federal decarceration plan was written by sentencing expert Michael Tonry in 1995 and was likely a large inspiration behind the November Coalition’s initial appeal for a drug war amnesty in 1998.
Last week the Supreme Court once again reassured federal judges that the guidelines were not mandatory, but advisory — and judges don't even have to presume that the sentences imposed in these guides are reasonable. Interesting. This case is called Nelson, and the same issues appeared in the cases called Booker, Blakely, Apprendi and more. It's a legal argument that has been coming before the Supreme Court for over a dozen years, but don't quote me -- give or take a few years at most. Past interesting, it's very important and not easy to present to legal lay-people. In a dizzy world, sometimes I want to give up trying. But, to do that would leave the people affected by bad law out of reach of the remedies presented.
In the mid-1980's, US lawmakers bent to the will of a get-tough-on-drugs crowd and gave birth to two kinds of sentencing schemes. They were given two different names. Names were very important when the 'modern reformists' began carving out new laws for the federal system.
My father was one, and my brother did his share of training and supervising co-workers in the field. Both of them had Marine Corps training, thought in military terms even around the house, and so we might ask when we ponder this leadership quagmire in Law Enforcement Agencies -- who are they? What makes them tick?
I introduce my father, through letters to his mother during World War II -- Earl Edward Callahan. I do not 'doctor' the racist language -- as these World War II vets, recruited to build border security following World War II were not unlike my father, and likely made up the bulk of the men on the Border Patrol in the late 40's and 50's -- some backdrop for agency problems today, perhaps. For any pain it brings to readers, I'm sorry.
A common emotion rolls through each never-ending session; roars up, entwining with crushing force; surfaces again. It is absolutely underlying, cloying, persistent throughout. I find it in people and circumstance that still, years later, I'm forced to consider. It is the hardest issue to confront, reason enough to start notebooks, diaries or blogs, no doubt, the stuff made of madness throughout. It's an emotion, and also a human act.
I've briefly explained my father's penchant for war stories, but there is more to add. I think that part of the problem that civil servants have, is due to the policy that converts military and combat service particularly, into domestic and other kinds of civilian and international policing. And so, I continue my story.