• The United States has 5% of the world's population, yet possesses 25% of the world's prison population;
• More than 2.38 million Americans are now in prison, and another 5 million remain on probation or parole. That amounts to 1 in every 31 adults in the United States is in prison, in jail, or on supervised release;
• Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980, up from 41,000 to 500,000 in 2008
• 60% of offenders are arrested for non-violent offensives--many driven by mental illness or drug addiction.
• We have an incarceration rate in the United States, the world's greatest democracy, that is five times as high as the average incarceration rate of the rest of the world.
From The New York Times:
Reviewing Criminal Justice
America's criminal justice system needs repair. Prisons are overcrowded, sentencing policies are uneven and often unfair, ex-convicts are poorly integrated into society, and the growing problem of gang violence has not received the attention it deserves. For these and other reasons, a bill introduced last week by Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, should be given high priority on the Congressional calendar.
The bill, which has strong bipartisan support, would establish a national commission to review the system from top to bottom. It is long overdue, and should be up and running as soon as possible.
There is no companion bill in the House, and one needs to be written. Judging by the bipartisan support in the Senate, a national consensus has emerged that the criminal justice system is broken. (Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/opinion/30mon1.html?_r=2 )
S.714 - National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 A bill to establish the National Criminal Justice Commission. Link: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s714/text