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July 27, 2010

Breaking News: House Approves National Criminal Justice Commission Act

The House of Representatives today passed legislation that would establish a national commission to conduct a thorough evaluation of the nation's justice system and offer recommendations for reform in a range of areas, including sentencing policy, rates of incarceration, law enforcement, crime prevention, substance abuse, corrections and reentry.

The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010, H.R. 5143, passed by voice vote under a suspension of the rules. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Reps. William Delahunt (D-MA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Robert "Bobby" Scott (D-VA), now awaits passage in the Senate where it was introduced by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA).

The bipartisan commission created by this legislation would establish an organized and proactive approach to studying and advancing programs and policies that promote public safety, while overhauling those practices that are found to be fundamentally flawed. The "blue-ribbon" commission would be charged with conducting an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the nation's entire criminal justice system and offer concrete recommendations for reform.

With 2.3 million people in prisons and jails, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The Sentencing Project is concerned about overly punitive approaches to non-violent and low-level offenses that have overcrowded U.S. prisons and jails. Too often, men, women and youth suffering from drug addiction and/or mental illness find themselves incarcerated because of inadequate levels of community-based services.

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Issue Area(s): Sentencing Policy, Incarceration, Racial Disparity, Felony Disenfranchisement, Drug Policy, Women, Collateral Consequences, Juvenile Justice