Senate Committee Passes Webb Crime Commission Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee finally approves a crime bill, and which one is it? The Webb Criminal Justice Commission bill ordering an 18 month study of criminal justice policies. Here's the amended bill voted out of committee today.

I hope this does not result in an 18 month moratorium on the passage of much needed crime bills that have been languishing for months and years, like bills to equalize the penalties for crack and powder cocaine and reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, or increase federal good time.

As I wrote ten months ago when this bill was introduced, we don't need another study. We know what's wrong. It's time to fix it, not issue yet another report. (The U.S. Sentencing Commission has issued multiple reports on the unfairness of mandatory minimums and crack-powder and not one has been acted on. Do we really need more?)

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    Jeralyn, it's issues like this (none / 0) (#1)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 06:05:28 PM EST
    that I am now devoting time to. I send the occasional letter or email to a congressman or senator, because, after all, I live in Alabama. But I can influence legislators, and also work against such buffoons as the mayor of Albertville, AL, who is a staunch proponent of 287 (g). Hell, all politics is local. Including idiotic crime bills and their oppression.

    re framing (none / 0) (#2)
    by klassicheart on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 06:15:27 PM EST
    What about reframing this narrative to emphasize the cost of incarcerating people who have a medical problem?  How much of our budget goes to incarcerating drug offenders?  What does this do to state budgets?  If the public were informed that non violent drug offenders present a danger only to themselves but a budget buster to the economy, will their opinions change?  Also, I have an interesting comment from a friend of mine who is a Pubic Defender.  It is shocking that we are spending huge sums of money for police to arrest low end drug dealers and drug users.  On one recent bust, there were 15 cops on a case involving small amounts of drugs.  Why?  Because it is safer for the cops to go after these people as opposed to the truly dangerous drug kingpins.  Plus there are incentives to law enforcement to up internal statistics regarding drug busts...any drug busts...just as long as the statistic looks good.  What can we do to change the incentives?  And what is already baked into existing legislation...i.e.  who benefits.  I prefer an approach that casts the argument in terms of best use of limited resources...and focusing on the cost of continually building prisons and warehousing the non violent.  I'd like to see an economic analysis pushed over and over.  People should know where their tax dollars are going and what they are really paying for.

    Race to the lifeboats: (none / 0) (#3)
    by kidneystones on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 06:45:36 PM EST
    Obama screams: Me First!

    This punt is only one of many we'll see in coming months. Josh Marshall is half-right when he observes that Dems are walking around dazed and confused in the wake of the Brown election. It's more like reps are screaming and rending their clothes, panicked to the core of their self-interested souls. Total fraking meltdown.

    Post MA Dems now believe waiting for the JOBS, JOBS, JOBS bill is going to get voters to forget and forgive the last year. Paralysis isn't the path to redemption.

    Brown made Obama's signature project, Health Care Reform, totally toxic. And guess who's already sitting in the lifeboats, before the ship has actually hit the iceberg. President 'Too Busy'.

    Obama is the author of the health care debacle. The WH response to Brown is to throw all the Dems who worked on this disastrous legislation under the bus.

    Those in prison simply aren't worth the political risk. Maybe after 2010, or 2012. You understand.

    My comment was not about prioritizing issues (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by klassicheart on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 07:37:22 PM EST
    I totally agree with you as to what should be our first priorities:  the Supreme Court decision and the inept and feckless leader who the liberal elite and political class foisted upon (through a brilliant marketing campaign) a naive  public.  Without an effective leader, we should begin to think of a Plan B electoral policy re Obama himself...ie. primary....But since the subject was not about priorities, my comment was directed to the subject at hand.

    I thought it (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by kidneystones on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 08:01:16 PM EST
    was a great comment. I was just over at Digby. There's a profound disconnect between what bloggers are writing (except at TL) and what seems to be taking place in Washington.

    People can make jokes about the 'new majority' 41-59, but that stat actually overstates the reality, because a large number of the 59 were always closer ideologically to the 41.

    The same Dems, literally, who damned Bill Clinton as a racist a year ago are now sucking up to Bill hoping that Big Dog can pull their sorry, sanctimonious asses out of the 'Yes, we can't' fire.

    Reducing the crowding in America's prisons and getting people off the pipe are at least as important, IMHO, as health-care reform. The good news may be that rank and file activists may recognize, finally, that Wall St simply elected the guy they wanted to the Oval office.

    Those up for election know that Brown could never have won if the curtain was still intact. It would actually be better for Dems if elections were held tomorrow. Republicans are going to be extremely focused and motivated.

    I didn't actually think Dems would screw-up this bad, even with this incompetent at the helm.

    I hope Dems do remain committed at the local and state level because Republicans are, for the most part, much more likely to make an extremely grim situation that much worse.

    At the national level: catastrophe. This is one time the blogs are behind the curve.


    eighteen months is 7/2011 (none / 0) (#4)
    by diogenes on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 06:55:08 PM EST
    That is, well after the Congress has to face the voters to answer for the crime bill they voted for.  You don't have to be Diogenes to be cynical about that.

    Without thew Grassley Amendment (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 08:54:39 PM EST
    which had sought to bar the Commission from discussing drug legalization.

    Conan and Leno are important. (none / 0) (#8)
    by lentinel on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 07:44:19 AM EST
    Very important.

    Meanwhile, Obama is adding one more Bush move to his ever-expanding repetoire:

    January 21, 2010
    BERLIN -- Three months after the United States announced a reformulated missile-defense plan for Poland, the Polish defense minister has announced that American surface-to-air missiles will be deployed near Russian soil.

    That should put us in real solid with a true nuclear superpower.

    Just what we need.
    Go Obama.