Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Monday, March 30, 2009

QOTD: 'Soft on Crime?'

There's just no plausible explanation for Webb's actions other than the fact that he's engaged in the noblest and rarest of conduct: advocating a position and pursuing an outcome because he actually believes in it and believes that, with reasoned argument, he can convince his fellow citizens to see the validity of his cause. And he is doing this despite the fact that it potentially poses substantial risks to his political self-interest and offers almost no prospect for political reward.
- Glen Greenwald,
Salon: Jim Webb's courage v. the
"pragmatism" excuse for politicians

Jim Webb has introduced legislation in the Senate to form a Blue Ribbon panel to reform the entire criminal justice system, not just Prison. But can this honest commitment to a real problem succeed? What the numbers show is staggering. To quote Webb,
We have 5% of the world's population; we have 25% of the world's known prison population. We have an incarceration rate in the United States, the world's greatest democracy, that is five times as high as the average incarceration rate of the rest of the world. There are only two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice. . . .
For more information, see Webb's National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009.

For South Carolina too the numbers are incredible. Just look at the statistics put out by our Department of Corrections and you'll see that the average daily population alone has doubled in the past 20 years. And it goes without saying that in this state a disproportionate number of those incarcerated are black men. More disturbing, though, our Corrections Department is currently over capacity - as of March 15, 2009 they're at 102% - and under staffed.

One of the ironic potentials of Governor Sanford's refusal to accept the Stimulus money is that the DOC will have to shed more COs, since they won't be able to afford them, and the federal judiciary will order South Carolina to releases at least three prisons worth of inmates, but unlike the Webb Commission, there may not be a discerning process between those who are nonviolent offenders and the folks who really should be behind bars.

Another interesting bit about the Webb bill is that it has the full support and sponsorship at least one of South Carolina's two Senators. Lindsey Graham is listed as a cosponsor of the legislation according to both Webb's site and Thomas, one of only two Republicans.

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