WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., has introduced a bill to create a commission to review of the federal criminal justice system and offer recommendations for reform.
The measure -- co-sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- calls for an 18-month comprehensive look at aspects of the criminal justice system, Webb said in a statement Thursday.
"America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace," Webb said. "With five percent of the world's population, our country houses twenty-five percent of the world's prison population."
He noted that the number of incarcerated drug offenders has climbed 1,200 percent since 1980, and four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals.
"We should be devoting precious law enforcement capabilities toward making our communities safer. Our neighborhoods are at risk from gang violence, including transnational gang violence," Webb said.
The commission would be led by a chairman appointed by the president. Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle, and the Democratic and Republican governors' associations would appoint the remaining members of the commission, Webb said.