Thank you for contacting me regarding our nation’s criminal justice system. I appreciate hearing from you, and I welcome the chance to respond. As a former prosecutor, I fought to appropriately punish those who violated our laws. The fact is, however, that more than seven million Americans are currently under criminal justice supervision, and many of these offenders are guilty of only nonviolent drug crimes. The rate of incarcerated drug offenders has soared by 1200% since 1980. Too many of these former offenders reenter our communities without the substance abuse treatment and basic life skills needed to contribute to society, and two-thirds are rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of their release. This pace is unsustainable; it is destroying our communities and wasting taxpayer dollars. We need to create a judicial system that provides equal and fair verdicts, as well as a humane incarnation and reentry system that truly emphasizes the rehabilitation of those who will be released.
Last year Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Second Chance Act. This law created programs that combine intensive parole supervision with job training, substance abuse treatment, and other support services to help high-risk offenders become productive citizens. Now we need to follow through by funding the Second Chance Act’s programs and ensuring they are properly implemented.
The Second Chance Act was an important step in the right direction, but more reform is needed. That is why I am cosponsoring the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 (S.714). This legislation would create and authorize a commission to conduct a top-to-bottom review of our nation’s criminal justice system and offer concrete recommendations for reform. S.714 has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary. White I do not serve on this committee, I will bear your comments in mind should it be considered by the Senate.
Again, thank you for sharing your concerns with me. It is a privilege to represent you. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future regarding other matters of interest or concern.
Senator Claire McCaskill
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