The New York Times has endorsed the national criminal justice commission advocated by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), which has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel would study is why the U.S. has world’s highest reported incarceration rate, which the Times says long has been “troubling as a matter of fairness, but with the recession it has become an enormous financial burden.” Out of fiscal necessity, some states are paroling prisoners faster and in larger numbers and looking for alternatives to incarceration.
The Times says such a scattershot approach is far from ideal. “It would be better to have experts address these issues at a national level in a more methodical way,” says the newspaper. The Senate should approve the panel, and the House should vote for a companion bill, says the Times, concluding, that a “broad consensus has emerged that the [criminal-justice] system is broken.”