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A Blue-Ribbon Look at Criminal Justice

The New York Times ran an editorial on Saturday endorsing Senator Jim Webb’s proposal to create a commission tasked with examining the nation’s criminal justice system.

Here’s a snippet from the editorial:

“The high imprisonment rate has long been troubling as a matter of fairness, but with the recession it has become an enormous financial burden. States have begun, out of fiscal necessity, to parole prisoners faster and in larger numbers, and to look for alternatives to incarceration. This scattershot approach is far from ideal. It would be better to have experts address these issues at a national level in a more methodical way.”

Most of the bill’s supporters to date have emphasized the commission’s role in examining the American criminal justice system’s high incarceration rate, racial imbalances, and proportion of inmates incarcerated for drug crimes. This editorial suggests another reason to support the bill – the commission’s ability to systematize states’ attempts to reduce corrections spending by releasing prisoners and help ensure releases are accomplished without threats to public safety.

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