The NYT editorializes about criminal justice reform, that is long overdue:
This country puts too many people behind bars for too long. Most elected officials, afraid of being tarred as soft on crime, ignore these problems. Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat of Virginia, is now courageously stepping into the void, calling for a national commission to re-assess criminal justice policy. Other members of Congress should show the same courage and rally to the cause.
The United States has the world’s highest reported incarceration rate. Although it has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it has almost one-quarter of the world’s prisoners. And for the first time in history, more than 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars.
Many inmates are serving long sentences for nonviolent crimes, including minor drug offenses. It also is extraordinarily expensive. Billions of dollars now being spent on prisons each year could be used in far more socially productive ways.