House Passes Crime Commission Bill

The House of Representatives today passed the Crime Commission bill, now known as H.R. 5143, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010 (originally the idea of Sen. Jim Webb.) Despite the praise by progressive groups for the creation of a bi-partisan committee to spend 18 months studying what's wrong with our criminal justice system, I remain unimpressed.

We don't need 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 (unlikely to happen at all now that the House is set to vote to make them 18:1 instead of 100:1 with the reduction being prospective only, doing nothing for the thousands already sentenced), bills to reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, or increase federal good time. Or even a bill to reduce the draconian child p*rn guidelines. It will be just more "hurry up and wait."[More...]

As I wrote last year 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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    But can't something (none / 0) (#1)
    by JamesTX on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 12:50:03 AM EST
    good come out of this? I realize that attitude implies way too much confidence in our Congresscritters. After all, if the pundits are right, they'll be wrapping it up under Republican rule.

    Just a fantasy, though. What could come out of this, maybe, is an impetus to turn the whole conservative criminal justice philosophy around, perhaps even taking into account the costs of criminalizing everything and the cost of creating a huge criminal class with no rights and no hope even after serving their sentences. Maybe even some draft legislation which would be broad and sweeping, trimming back the horrors created by thirty years of of Republican "tuff" philosophy? Maybe even fixing all those bills that it would hold up at once?

    Nah. Probably more "tuff".

    I'm sure something good will come out of it (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 01:11:34 AM EST
    eventually, but why wait 18 months when we already know what needs to be fixed. It's just a postponement. Plus, it's bipartisan, which means the changes won't be too significant. It's just an excuse to do nothing for the next 18 months and say "wait until the commission is done" and who knows what party will be in power then, and whether the view that reform is needed will still be the prevailing one. We should be pushing these laws through now while the Dems still have a majority.

    Of course... (none / 0) (#3)
    by JamesTX on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 01:42:34 AM EST
    it is in line with most liberal and Democratic strategies in recent history. If we can't lose outright, then delay until we are no longer in power is the next best option. No need to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Otherwise, the powder may get wet.

    What does President Nelson want to do? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Buckeye on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 08:29:42 AM EST
    That always seems to be the issue.

    treating symptoms rather than problems (none / 0) (#5)
    by Yes2Truth on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 09:25:14 AM EST

    You don't hear many Republicans arguing about
    lowering SS benefits by X amount vs Y amount.
    They argue SS, as we know it, should be eliminated.

    Likewise, with most of our criminal laws.

    Smart, effective lawyers, such as those found here on TL. have nothing to fear.  Maybe, maybe, in the very short term, a little less business, but that's all.  

    Legalize Freedom.  Overturn victimless crimes laws.