Friends of Justice is pleased to pass along this announcement from Laura Markle, Criminal Justice Reform Grassroots Coordinator with the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church
Wednesday, April 27th
TEXAS call-in day to support passage of the NATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION ACT . . . please spread the word!
BACKGROUND on the NCJCA:
In early 2011, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and bipartisan cosponsors re-introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act (S. 306), legislation that would create a bipartisan Commission to review and identify effective criminal justice policies and make recommendations for reform. Currently, the Senate bill is awaiting House introduction and passage. Please help to urge House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-21st/TX) to prioritize and pass this important legislation as soon as possible!
On Wednesday, April 27th individuals from Texas will call House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith’s (R-21st/TX) district office (ph 210-821-5024) to ask him to prioritize and support passage of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act (S. 306- fact sheet at bottom of this post) as soon as possible. When calling Rep. Smith, here is a useful guide: Representative Lamar Smith, San Antonio district office ph (210)821-5024
“Hi, my name is ____ and as a person of faith and resident of Texas, I am calling to ask Chairman Smith to prioritize passage of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act (S. 306), so that problems in the criminal justice system can be identified and ultimately be fixed. It is important to prioritize and support immediate passage of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act (S. 306) because:
The proposed commission would conduct a comprehensive national review – not audits of individual state systems – and would issue recommendations – not mandates – for consideration.
• In Texas, a similar bipartisan group of state officials – including Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chair John Whitmire (D) and House Corrections Committee Chair Jerry Madden (R) – analyzed key factors driving the Texas prison population expansion and successfully revised criminal justice policies and expenditures that resulted in both reduced criminal justice system involvement and overall costs, generating a net savings of $444 million in just 1 fiscal year.
• The increase in incarceration over the past twenty years has stretched the system beyond its limits. Texas is facing a projected FY2012 budget gap of $13.4 billion. The high costs of the criminal justice system are unsustainable, especially during tough economic times.
• Having a transparent and bipartisan Commission review and identify effective criminal justice policies would increase public safety. For example, in Texas, after just one year of smarter policies and investments in 2007, the number of parole revocations for technical violations dropped by more than half in a single year.”
If you have any questions about the Wednesday, April 27th NCJCA Texas Call-In Day, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you in advance for your help!
Blessings & courage,
Laura Markle Downton, M.Div.
Criminal Justice Reform Grassroots Coordinator
General Board of Church and Society
The United Methodist Church
100 Maryland Avenue NE, Suite 310
Washington DC 20002
NATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION ACT OF 2011
The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2011 will create a blue-ribbon commission charged with undertaking an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the criminal justice system. Its task will be to propose concrete, wide-ranging reforms to address the most pressing issues facing the nation’s criminal justice system.
WHY THIS LEGISLATION IS URGENTLY NEEDED
• The United States has by far the world’s highest incarceration rate. With five percent of the world’s population, our country now houses twenty-five percent of the world’s reported prisoners. More than 2.3 million Americans are now in prison, and another 5 million remain on probation or parole.
• Our prison population has skyrocketed over the past two decades as we have incarcerated more people for non-violent crimes and acts driven by mental illness or drug dependence.
• The costs to our federal, state, and local governments of keeping repeat offenders in the criminal justice system continue to grow during a time of increasingly tight budgets.
• Existing practices too often incarcerate people who do not belong in prison, taking resources away from locking up high-risk, violent offenders who are a threat to our communities.
• Transnational criminal activity, much of it directed by violent gangs and cartels from Latin America, Asia and Europe, has permeated the country. Mexican cartels alone now operate in more than 230 communities across the country.
• Incarceration for drug crimes has had a disproportionate impact on minority communities, despite virtually identical levels of drug use across racial and ethnic lines.
• Post-incarceration re-entry programs are haphazard and often nonexistent, undermining public safety and making it extremely difficult for ex-offenders to become full, contributing members of society.
LEGISLATION: REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The Commission shall undertake a comprehensive review of all areas of the criminal justice system, including Federal, State, local, and tribal governments’ criminal justice costs, practices, and policies. After conducting its review, the Commission shall make recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice at every step of the criminal justice system.