New York Federal Criminal Practice Blog
December 31, 2008

Happy New Year to Our Loyal Readers!

We wish all our readers a very happy and successful 2009.  We ring out the new year with some stirring words from Senator Jim Webb, who plans to introduce legislation in the spring to address America's sky-rocketing incarceration rates, as reported earlier this week in the Washington Post.  In fact, in its 2007 report published last week, the US Sentencing Commission points out that only 7.7% of the federal offenders sentenced in 2007 were sentenced to straight probation (with no other form of confinement), despite the fact that drug, immigration and fraud offenses alone account for about 70% of all cases.  It is one of the great shames of this nation that incarceration is our primary means of punishing non-violent criminal conduct – made all the worse by the racial and economic disparities underlying these statistics. As Senator Webb says on his official website:

National leaders need to start talking frankly about – and tackling issues that are not necessarily the most politically popular. Over the past two years, I have begun a serious dialogue about the skyrocketing incarceration rate in this country – a subject that does not get a lot of attention from politicians, but should.

There is something wrong with our criminal justice system when we have five percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's reported prison population. Sharp distinctions need to be drawn between offenders of violent crimes and those incarcerated for drug abuse and mental illness.

A national commission is needed to explore these issues. This is truly a national crisis that deserves dedicated attention and viable solutions.

See Archives for all posts since September 2007.