The New York Times has given a quick endorsement to the proposal by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) for a commission to study the criminal justice system. “Prisons are overcrowded, sentencing policies are uneven and often unfair, ex-convicts are poorly integrated into society, and the growing problem of gang violence has not received the attention it deserves,” the Times says in an editorial. The panel, the newspaper says, “is long overdue, and should be up and running as soon as possible.”
As governments waste money putting the wrong people behind bars, says the Times, gang activity has been escalating, accounting for as much as 80 percent of the crime in some parts of the nation. The paper also says that prison management and inmate treatment need special attention now that the federal Prison Litigation Reform Act has drastically scaled back prisoners' ability to vindicate their rights in court. The law should be modified or repealed, the Times says.