Prison Reform, an Overlooked Issue

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Senator James Webb, decorated Marine, journalist, novelist, and Ronald Reagan’s one-time Navy Secretary, has announced his intention to tackle the politically delicate issue of prison reform. Unafraid of being perceived as “soft on crime” by his constituents in Virginia, he plans to introduce legislation that will create a national panel to reshape the criminal justice system. Webb has publicly criticized the system for focusing on non-violent, low-level drug offenders and parole violators instead of targeting truly dangerous criminals. He says that too many cells filled with drug addicts and the mentally ill could be better used to house violent criminals. According to Department of Justice statistics, almost 20% of Americans sentenced to state prisons in 2005 were convicted of drug-related offenses. The figure for women is 28.7%. The U.S. holds a greater proportion of its population in jail than any other nation in the world. The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population.
Webb Sets his Sights on Prison Reform (by Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post)
Prisoners in 2007 (by Heather C. West and William J. Sabol, Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin) (PDF)


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