Could Webb Panel Reflect Entrenched Political Views?


A national criminal justice commission being pushed by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) may not accomplish much if its membership ends up reflecting “polarized” political opinion on crime policy, says criminologist Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie-Mellon University. Speaking this week at the annual forum sponsored by the National Criminal Justice Association, Blumstein cited Webb’s proposal that 8 of the panel’s 11 members be chosen by the majority and minority party leaders in the House and Senate.

Blumstein, who was a staff member of President Lyndon Johnson’s crime commission of the 1960s, said that effort succeeded largely because there was then a “widespread shared set of values” regarding crime and justice. In the intervening years, Democrats and Republicans have pursued such divergent views that a commission composed largely of members with opposing ideologies could become stalemated, Blumstein suggested. Still, he said that reform of U.S. criminal justice policy remains a possibility because government budget woes are forcing choices to be made and because during a time of relatively low crime rates, the public is not demanding “tough” anticrime actions.

Comments are closed.


You have Free articles left this month.

Want access to all our reporting? Subscribe for unlimited access or login.