The New York Times begins the new year by calling on all members of congress to show the same courage Senator Webb has shown and to "rally to the cause" of criminal justice reform. The editorial points out that "Senator Webb — a former Marine and secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration — is in many ways an unlikely person to champion criminal justice reform. But his background makes him an especially effective advocate for a cause that has often been associated with liberals and academics."
The editorial concludes saying:
"With Barack Obama in the White House, and strong Democratic majorities in Congress, the political climate should be more favorable than it has been in years. And the economic downturn should make both federal and state lawmakers receptive to the idea of reforming a prison system that is as wasteful as it is inhumane."
To learn more about what comprehensive criminal justice reform should look like, visit the Constitution Project's report "Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress." Here you'll find a concise yet broad description of what we can do to improve the entire system, from investigation through release. It's a report written by respected scholars and reform advocates that's worth our attention--and the attention of our elected leaders.
What I would add to the welcome comments in the Times is that reform is not an issue of right vs. left, conservative vs. liberal or republican vs. democrat. It is first and foremost an issue of justice. As such, it transcends political boundaries. For example, Senators Brownback and Leahy--as different as night and day--joined forces to sponsor the Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act. There need be no division or restraint in the pursuit of justice.