Members of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) from across the nation today joined Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and leading Judiciary Committee members, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Arlen Specter (D-PA), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), to push for final passage of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, S. 714. The legislation, introduced by Senator Webb on March 26, 2009, was voted out of the Judiciary Committee January 19, and awaits a vote on the Senate floor.
"The IACP believes that it is imperative that the National Criminal Justice Commission Act be approved in a timely fashion," said Chief Michael J. Carroll, IACP President from the West Goshen Township Police Department in Chester County, Pennsylvania. "For far too long our nation's law enforcement and criminal justice system has lacked a strategic plan that will guide and integrate public safety and homeland security's effort in the years ahead. That is why the IACP and law enforcement executives across the United States are so thankful to Senators Webb, Specter, Hatch and their colleagues who have joined in the effort to establish this long-overdue national criminal justice commission. The IACP calls on the Senate and the House of Representatives to act quickly to approve this urgently needed legislation."
"On behalf of the thousands of small to mid-sized communities in this great country, I call on Congress, and I certainly applaud these Senators, to quickly pass the National Criminal Justice Commission Act," said Chief Mark A. Marshall, IACP 1st Vice President from Smithfield, Virginia. "My town is representative of the small to mid-sized communities where the majority of Americans reside. Our nation's public safety and criminal justice agencies desperately need this roadmap, this blueprint, that will guide our efforts to consistently ad effectively aid state, local, and tribal law enforcement in reducing crime and protecting the homeland in the 21st century." [To download photos of Chief Marshall, visit: http://webb.senate.gov/photos/photogallery/S714_Rally_for_Final_Vote.cfm]
The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010, which would create a blue-ribbon commission charged with comprehensively reviewing the nation's criminal justice system and offering concrete recommendations for reform, has gained the bipartisan support of 35 members of the Senate and endorsements from over 100 organizations representing a broad spectrum of the criminal justice community.
The IACP is the oldest and largest non-profit membership organization of police executives, with more than 22,000 members in over 100 countries. For more than 20 years, the IACP has advocated for the creation of a commission that would follow in the footsteps of the 1965 presidential commission on law enforcement and the administration of justice.
"I am very grateful to the International Association of Chiefs of Police for having entered into a dialogue with us about how to improve our approach, and for throwing their support behind this important legislation," said Senator Webb. "We started with two pieces of reality: we have by far the world's largest incarceration rate--with 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prison population--and, at the same time, Americans will tell you that they don't feel any safer today than they did a year ago."
Continued Webb: "Our legislation takes a holistic look at the criminal justice system with an eye toward comprehensive reform. We are hopeful that we will get a vote on this legislation very soon, and that this effort will see the same level of bipartisanship that we have experienced in the Senate Judiciary Committee and throughout this process."
Senator Webb's legislation won a major victory in January, when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure with bipartisan support.
Judiciary Committee member, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), joined today's event in support of the bill: "Because of the dedicated efforts of our law enforcement agencies, our nation has witnessed a 10-year decline in violent crime. Operating in a bipartisan way, I believe this commission will provide a thoughtful analysis and recommendations to Congress on how we can continue to strengthen our criminal justice system and keep our communities safe."
"There have been many commissions in recent years, but the problems which we are now confronting warrant a fresh look," said Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Crime and Drugs Subcommittee. "This commission has the potential to really make some very significant advances in public security and protection from the violent criminals. I am pleased to work with Senator Webb and my colleagues in the Senate on this important legislation."
"This is a long overdue measure," said Senator Lindsey Graham, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee Crime and Drugs Subcommittee. "I think every law enforcement officer can tell you that jail, in some circumstances, can take someone on the fence and make them worse. In some circumstances, if a jail is working right, it can take someone on the fence and make them better. What we need to do is find a system that works. Congress works best when it listens to its citizens. The men and women representing law enforcement understand the need for this legislation. This is one of those rare examples in a contentious environment in Congress when we are listening to our people, and I think the nation will be better off for it."
To read more about the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, please visit: http://webb.senate.gov/issuesandlegislation/Criminal_Justice_Banner.cfm
To download photos of today's event, visit: http://webb.senate.gov/photos/photogallery/S714_Rally_for_Final_Vote.cfm
To read the February 13, 2010 New York Times editorial, "A Blue Ribbon Look at Criminal Justice," visit: http://webb.senate.gov/newsroom/newsarticles/02-13-2010-01.cfm
To watch a highlight video from today's event, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5niWyJ_uttE