March 9, 2017
Group of Senators revive idea of a National Criminal Justice Commission
Long time readers may recall that, way back in 2009, then-Senator Jim Webb introduced legislation to create a National Criminal Justice Commission. As reported here by The Crime Report, what was old is now new again, and might this time have a chance to become a reality:
A bipartisan group of more than 20 U.S. senators is making another attempt to establish the first national commission in 50 years to study the criminal justice system and make recommendations on improving it. Smaller groups of senators have pursued the idea in recent years, but it has failed to amass enough support to pass.
One of the lead sponsors, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), said, “Our criminal justice system is built on the pillars of fairness and equality, but too many Americans see growing challenges in our justice system ranging from overburdened courts and unsustainable incarceration costs to strained relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
Joined by Sens John Cornyn (R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as primary sponsors, the bill would establish a 14-member, bipartisan National Criminal Justice Commission that would conduct an 18-month, comprehensive review of the national criminal justice system. It would then issue recommendations for “changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws to reduce crime, increase public safety and promote confidence in the criminal justice system.”
The panel would be composed of appointees of President Trump and congressional leaders of both parties, including experts on law enforcement, criminal justice, victims’ rights, civil liberties, and social services….
Under an order from President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently set up a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, but that panel is being run by heads of federal law enforcement agencies and does not include officials and advocates outside the Justice Department.
The senators’ proposal reflects a longstanding priority of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and is also backed by the Fraternal Order of Police, which supported Trump’s election. Officials of a range of other organizations immediately backed the idea, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the National Urban League, National Sheriffs’ Association, International CURE (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants), and the Major County Sheriffs of America.
It has already attracted support from an ideological mix of senators, ranging from Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Orrin Hatch of Utah on the right to Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Kamala Harris of California on the left.