Sunday, March 29, 2009

Backbencher of the Week

Even though I am not the only blog to send kudos his way, Senator Jim Webb(D-VA) is this week's Backbencher of the Week.  Webb is in his first term as a Senator after defeating GOP rising star Sen. George Allen.

One of Sen. Webb's projects in the Senate is prison reform.  This week he introduced a bill to create a commission to study prison reform.  Pointing out uncomfortable facts like even though the U.S. has '5% of the world's population the U.S. has 25% of the world's known prison population," Webb sets the stage for calling for much needed reform.  He also points out the racial disparity in the prison population and how the skyrocketing rate of incarceration is based on non-violent drug offenders.

It's not just the rate of incarceration that Webb addresses.  He also addresses the conditions in our prisons.  According to Senator Webb, rates of physical and sexual violence are "off the charts."  Prisons are also filled with people Senator Webb calls the "criminally ill," and webb discusses how woeful medical care is for inmates even though HIV and Hepatitis rate are high.

Sen. Webb seeks to not just reform our prison system but the entire criminal justice system and especially how the system handles drugs.  For too long politicians have played a game of top this with regard to our criminal justice system.  The result is an increasing militarized and brutal system done in the name of "law-and order," and "the war on drugs."    

For having the political courage to question and push to reform criminal justice in the United States, Senator Jim Webb is this week's Backbencher of the Week. 

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