NAPO Call to Action: Opposition to Webb Bill Ammendment

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Dear NAPO Members,

NAPO would like to draw your attention to Senator Jim Webb’s (D-VA) Amendment, Establishment of The National Criminal Justice Commission (S.A. 750) to the FY12 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill (S. 1572) . NAPO is asking you to contact your Senator to voice strong opposition toward this amendment. (Read the letter NAPO sent to Washington here: NAPO Opposes Webb Crime Bill S A 750

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This amendment would establish a Federal Commission to undertake a comprehensive examination of all aspects of America’s criminal justice system – federal, state and local – and offer those findings to Congress and the Executive Branch.

While NAPO does not oppose examination of our criminal justice system, we, along with other law enforcement groups such as the NDAA, are opposed to this amendment for the following reasons:

  1. Concerns with the formulation and composition of the National Criminal Justice Commission.  The 14-member Commission would be selected largely by the current President (5 members), with other members selected by Congressional leadership from both the Majority and Minority parties.  The larger number of Presidential selections would skew the panel to favor one political ideology over another.  Additionally, while guidelines on areas of expertise (for example, “law enforcement”, “prisoner reentry” and “civil liberties”) in order to be considered to serve on the Commission are contained in the proposal, specific representation from criminal justice practitioners such as District Attorneys, State and local prosecutors, Attorneys General, Chiefs of Police, Judges, Drug Court Professionals, Sheriffs, Police Officers or any other law enforcement practitioner to serve on the Commission would not be mandated.
  1. We also believe that an analysis of America’s federal, state and local criminal justice systems cannot be completed in an 18-month period.  The 18-month timeframe was selected largely based on President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice in 1965.  Over the past 45 years, the size and complexities of America’s criminal justice system has grown and an 18-month window isn’t near enough time to complete such a study.
  1. During these times of fiscal crisis in America, the Commission would require $14 million in new spending to complete its work over the next two fiscal years.  Senator Webb’s amendment would offset this new spending through the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Program’s Administrative Account, which has already received close to a 50% reduction in funding since FY’ 2010.  In addition, many state and local criminal justice programs funded by OJP have been gutted or eliminated over the past few fiscal cycles.   It would be fiscally irresponsible to fund such a study while current budget cuts are hitting America’s police so hard. The need for law enforcement officers is greater than ever. Rather than fund this proposed study, the money could be used to put officers directly in our communities through funding the COPS Hiring program.

We share these concerns with the NDAA and ask you to please contact your Senators today and reiterate these talking points and urge a NO VOTE on Senate Amendment 750, The National Criminal Justice Commission. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to NAPO’s Director of government Affairs, Rachel Hedge: 703-579-0775 or rhedge@napo.org

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Kind regards,

Rachel Hedge

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