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NAACP Supports the ”National Criminal Justice Act of 2009”

WHEREAS, with 5% of the world's population, our country now houses 25% of the world's reported prisoners; and

WHEREAS, more than 60% of the people in prison in the United States now are racial and ethnic minorities; and

WHEREAS, for Black males in their twenties, 1 in every 8 is in prison or jail on any given day; and

WHEREAS, these trends have been intensified by the disproportionate impact of the "war on drugs," in which three-fourths of all persons in prison for drug offenses are people of color; and

WHEREAS, incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980; and

WHEREAS, mass incarceration of illegal drug users has not curtailed drug usage. The multi-billion dollar illegal drugs industry remains intact, with more dangerous drugs continuing to reach our streets; and

WHEREAS, four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals; and

WHEREAS, post-incarceration re-entry programs are haphazard and often nonexistent, undermining public safety and making it extremely difficult for ex-offenders to become full, contributing members of society; and

WHEREAS, the costs to our federal, state, and local governments of keeping repeat offenders in the criminal justice system continue to grow during a time of increasingly tight budgets; and

WHEREAS, existing practices too often incarcerate people who do not belong in prison and distract from locking up the more serious, violent offenders who are a threat to our communities; and

WHEREAS, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, (S. 714) introduced by Senator Jim Webb (VA) on March 26, 2009, will create a blue-ribbon commission charged with undertaking an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of our entire criminal justice system. Its task will be to propose concrete, wide ranging reforms designed to responsibly reduce the overall incarceration rate; improve federal and local responses to international and domestic gang violence; restructure our approach to drug policy; improve the treatment of mental illness; improve prison administration; and establish a system for reintegrating ex-offenders.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports the need for a total overhaul of our nation's criminal justice system, and as such supports S. 714, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, and urges its swift enactment.