Rep. Delahunt to Introduce Companion to Webb Crime Bill

Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) told Huffington Post today he is introducing a companion bill to Sen. Jim Webb's bill to create a commission to study criminal justice and sentencing reform.

Delahunt, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said that reform of the American justice system should begin with a broad look at drug policy.

"I think it's really time to do an absolute overview of the issue of drugs and come at it with an open mind," he said.


Huffpo notes Rep. Delahunt used to be a prosecutor:

Asked how his experience as a prosecutor shapes his thinking on drug legalization, he turned the question around.

"I mean, how long have we been waging the war on drugs?" he said.

Rep. Delahunt was one of the strongest supporters of the 2000 Innocence Protection Act -- the good one before it got watered down in 2004 by pressure from DOJ and Republicans to divert most of the money to testing old rape kits. He worked tirelessly on the bill (along with Sen. Patrick Leahy and others) for five years. As disappointed as I was in the final outcome, Delahunt did everything he could and at least ensured that some money was made available to inmates seeking DNA testing to prove their innocence.

In 2004, he co-sponsored a bill to end Patriot Act Abuses. In 2006, he was one of 72 Congresspersons to file an Amicus Brief challenging NSA warrantless electronic surveillance.

I think Rep. Delahunt is an excellent steward for the Webb companion bill. I've been lukewarm on the Webb Crime Bill because it creates an 18 month commission to study issues I think we already know the answers to and I'd rather see us act now. But, that's not going to happen, so I'm going to support the Webb and Delahunt bills. I just hope they add some criminal defense lawyers to the commission, since that's a curious ommission from the task force composition.

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    I hear that.... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 08:16:22 AM EST
    it creates an 18 month commission to study issues I think we already know the answers to

    Ain't that the truth...we've had 70+ years of the prohibition experiment, 30 odd years of lock 'em up like crazy, I think it is safe to come to the conclusion prohibition has been a disaster, and lock 'em up is an embarassment for supposedly free country.

    On the bright side, it sure beats another "tough on crime/drugs" bill.

    This bill (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 08:20:45 AM EST
    Seems like an excellent idea.  Although I disagree that we have all the answers and and 18 month study is unreasonable.  If Congress passed a bill this afternoon to legalize all drugs and free all inmates in on drug charges, it would be a disaster - does anyone remember how well things went after Congress rammed through TARP and the stimulus package?

    TARP and the stimulus... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 08:37:05 AM EST
    is costing us, might end up bankrupting us...prohibition repeal might offset some of that cost....not to mention remove thousands of souls from shackles.  If we're as broke as the balance sheet indicates, there is little time to delay.  And think of the men and women in the cages....is their plight less urgent than AIG not paying some bonuses to the gamblers on their payroll?

    It may be a disaster replacing a disaster, there are no guarantees, only opportunities...but it would be a free and liberty-filled disaster...unlike the drug war, which is a  disaster of tyranny and misery.



    My point was (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:40:54 AM EST
    Anything they rush through and sell to us as a "good idea" always ends up being a disaster - namely because all kinds of stuff gets put in these bills that a)no one reads or b)no one actually has thought about the unintended consequences.

    I would prefer something as major as this be a little thought out.


    Normally I'd agree... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 10:12:18 AM EST
    but this is a special case...we've studied this to death and ignored findings that the drug warriors don't like, and highlighted what they do like.  Since Nixon.

    They'll study for 18 months and bury it when the study states the obvious...this ain't working or helping.  Then next year they'll call for another study...rinse repeat while the prohibition profiteers keep laughing on the way to the bank.