Video archive of the US Congress

Senate Proceeding on Jul 28th, 2010 :: 1:37:45 to 1:46:50
Total video length: 9 hours 33 minutes Stream Tools: Stream Overview | Edit Time

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James Webb

1:37:41 to 1:38:04( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: would yield the floor. mr. webb: mr. president? senator from virginia is recognized. mr. webb: thank you, mr. president. i would like to point out to members of this body that yesterday in the house of representatives, the national criminal justice commission act of 2010 was passed in a noncontroversial manner by a voice vote.

James Webb

1:37:45 to 1:46:50( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: James Webb

James Webb

1:38:05 to 1:38:25( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: this legislation is the legistion that my staff and i have worked on for more than three years now, which has cleared the judiciary committee, which now has 39 cosponsors, including the senator from pennsylvania, who just spoke, and including the presiding

James Webb

1:38:26 to 1:38:46( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: officer, and would like to urge our leadership ogee both sides of the -- on both sid of the aisle to bring this legislation finally to the floor and let's get the task of reforming our criminal justice system into motion. it's been more than four years

James Webb

1:38:47 to 1:39:07( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: since we've had a strong look at all of the different components of our criminal justice system and how broken it has become, and this legislation will beneficiary wou-- wouldprovide the right vehicle to do soavment i started working on this as soon cames to the snavment the work along with the

James Webb

1:39:08 to 1:39:28( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: joint economic committee and many nonprofit groups and 501(c) groups to hold extensive hearings on the issue of massive incarceration, drug policy, how the different components of criminal justice interrelate and why we need to take a larger look at the process. we designed this legislation

James Webb

1:39:29 to 1:39:50( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: with the input from people across the philosophical spectrum in order to provide strong advice to the congress about how to fix all of the components of our criminal justice system, from how people are apprehended, what is the decision to do with them after

James Webb

1:39:51 to 1:40:13( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: they are apprehended, when do we put people in prison, how long, what happens to them when they're in prison, what does prison administration look like what do these reentry programs look like, and how do we deal with issues such as transnational gains? it is very difficult to deal with them one component at a time. we have a vehicle here that has

James Webb

1:40:14 to 1:40:34( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: been scrubbed through the entire philosophical spectrum with great support. i'm going to show some of those areas of support in a minute. the starting point is, why? why do we need to move on this now? i wrote this article for parade magazine last march when i

James Webb

1:40:35 to 1:40:57( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: decided to move our legislation forward. we got the country once we started talking about it in the manner of two components that we all ought to be concerned about. first of all, incarceration in the united states has skyrocketed, particularly since about 1980. in the united states today, we

James Webb

1:40:58 to 1:41:19( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: have far more people in jail per capita than any other country in the western world and actually in other parts of the world as well. we have 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's known prison population. at the same time, we've got another 5 million people who are in different parts of the criminal justice process who are not incarceratedment we have

James Webb

1:41:20 to 1:41:40( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: more than 7 million people in this country involved in the criminal justice process today. at the same time, if you asked people in this country if they feel any safer, more than 70% will tell you they feel less safe in their communities than they did a year ago. and this is a trend that has actually increased over the years since about 2001. so we're putting more people in

James Webb

1:41:41 to 1:42:03( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: ja, we got more people involved in the criminal justice system, and people feel less safe. clearly, this is a leadership issue. we need to get our arms around it. we have a responsibility as the leaders of this nation to put the right process into motion so we can make better sense out of our criminal justice system.

James Webb

1:42:04 to 1:42:24( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: once we -- another statistic here before i talk about the process we went through -- whwhen you look at this increase in incarceration, a huge part of this has been thrgh our inability to goiter arms around the drug enforcement policies. when you go from 1980 to 2007 and look at federal, state, and

James Webb

1:42:25 to 1:42:45( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: local prisons or jails you you'll see that our incarceration of drug offenders has skyrocketed by 1,200% since 1980. in 1980 we had 41,000 people in jail on drug offenses. by 2007 that was 500,000. a significant percentage of

James Webb

1:42:46 to 1:43:07( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: these people, as the chair knows, are incarcerated for nonviolent owe fensz and a very high percentage of them have been minorities. when we started talking about this issue, we got a lot of unease, particularly from law enforcement's side. we brought them in one at a

James Webb

1:43:08 to 1:43:29( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: time, and our staff -- not only in the judiciary committee, we brought it right in a your office. we sat down with more than 100 different otio organizations across the political spectrum to ge their input on what the commission ought to do and to make sure we're reaching out to all aspects of the issue of criminal justice in our society.

James Webb

1:43:30 to 1:43:51( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: and we have the support now from across thehilosophical spectrum -- fraternal orders of plirks the national association of police organizations, the international asciation of chiefs of police -- nearly 20,000 members who called our own press conference a couple of months ago to endhors legislation and among their leadership were saying this was the most important issue that they would be working on in

James Webb

1:43:52 to 1:44:12( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: their careers. at the same time, we have gotten endorsements from people who were more concerned about the individual rights area of criminal justice, the naacp, the american civil liberties union, human rights watch, the national association of social workers.

James Webb

1:44:13 to 1:44:33( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: this is a buy-in from all of the elements in our country that are involved in this issue that we need to find the type of solution that's going to make our system more fair, that's going to make it more efficient, and in the end is going to give us the potential in terms of reimri process to -- reentry

James Webb

1:44:34 to 1:44:54( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: process to reduce recidivism and reduce crime in our communities. the last point i would make, mr. president, and i hope my colleagues will think about this, with the passage of this night, we are ready -- there is not any major piece of

James Webb

1:44:55 to 1:45:16( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: controversy over a piece of legislation that we've sat down and listened to from the republican side, got a 7-7 buy-in on the membership of the commission in terms of appointments from different party leaders. this is the cover of this week's "econost" magazine.

James Webb

1:45:17 to 1:45:37( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: "the economist" magazine in my view, is probably the finest news magazine in the world. i've read it for more than 30 years. the cover is why america locks up too many people the. they have an in-depth article in here asking the question about what is wrong with the american criminal justice system and what

James Webb

1:45:38 to 1:45:58( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: needs to be done to fix it. so i would ask the leadership of both our parties, and particularly those on the other side, let's step forward, create this commission. it's a year and a half sunsetted commission. it's not something that's going to keep going on. we're going to put experts on

James Webb

1:45:59 to 1:46:19( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: the commission to come back to us and talk to us about how we can make this system fair, take care of the problemsf crime, the worries that people have and at the same time be a lot more sensible in terms of who we a incarcerating and how we are assisting them in their reentry to our society. thank you, mr. president.

James Webb

1:46:20 to 1:46:34( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.

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