Innocence Blog

A Plea to Pass Federal Criminal Justice Reform

Posted: September 15, 2011 11:15 am


In an open letter to the Senate today, the Innocence Project urges senators to prioritize and pass the National Criminal Justice Commission Act as soon as possible.

The National Criminal Justice Commission Act (S. 306), which was reintroduced earlier this year by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), would review our nation’s criminal justice system and make sensible, bipartisan recommendations to improve the system’s affordability, accuracy, and accountability, as well as increase fairness and public safety.

Webb’s bill has lingered in the Senate for the past two years.  Webb told Newsweek that Congress has had a tendency to stall when asked to improve various aspects of the criminal justice system.

By improving the underlying fairness and reliability of the criminal justice system, the National Criminal Justice Act could help identify why wrongful convictions occur and how they can be prevented.  Such accuracy in prosecution and conviction is critical to ensuring public safety and confidence in the justice system.

Webb’s sole agenda with the National Criminal Justice Commission Act is to improve the justice system from top to bottom with a balanced approach and strong leadership.

“I didn’t do this for political reasons,” Webb says. “I’m a novelist, basically. What do you do with a novel? You take a complex issue and you think your way through it. I’ve taken on the same types of issues as a senator and worked to sort them out. This is one that needs to be done.”

Texas, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Wisconsin and other states have created criminal justice review commissions that have led to concrete improvements to prevent wrongful convictions, improve the accuracy of law enforcement investigations, and strengthen prosecutions.