U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is still working to create a national commission to study criminal justice system problems, Newsweek reports. “Time may be on Webb's side,” says the magazine, noting increasing conservative support for the cause. Republicans have begun to realize that prison spending, the the fastest-growing state budget item behind Medicaid, was ripe for a trim. Influential GOP governors such as Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mitch Daniels of Indiana are working to reduce recidivism, soften sentences, and save money in their home states, while Right on Crime, backed by Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush, and Grover Norquist, is championing reform on the national stage. “People who would've been skeptical have gotten on board,” says Webb, noting that he has convinced Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions, and Orrin Hatch to support his bill.
Webb believes he has “two thirds” of the Senate on his side, and that his only remaining roadblock is “getting the bill to the floor.” His plan has earned the backing of 39 cosponsors and more than 100 outside organizations, including the National Sheriffs Association, and President Obama has been “supportive.” (In February they “discussed doing it as a presidential commission” should the bill fail.) Newsweek doesn’t discuss the House, which passed the commission measure once but that was before Republicans took control. Webb is not seeking reelection in 2012.