Senator Jim Webb of Virginia published a short article on The Charlottesville Center for peace and Justice website about problems with the criminal justice system and some suggested reforms. He highlights some pretty disturbing figures which make it difficult to argue that the criminal justice system is functioning fairly and smoothly. In his article, he cites the following: 1 out of every 31 adults in the United States is either incarcerated or on parole or probation and the number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased by 1200% since 1980. Most of the people in the U.S. are incarcerated for non-violent offenses.
When we consider the level of violence that pervades cities in the United States, including Jacksonville, Florida, one obvious implication is that criminal justice resources are not being allocated towards violent offenders to the extent they should be. Something is clearly wrong when the jails and prisons are full on drug and other nonviolent offenders at an increasing rate, yet violent crimes are more and more prevalent. Senator Webb points to reforms which would direct law enforcement attention more towards violent offenders while also developing rehabilitory strategies for drug and other nonvioolent offenders who can use the help to get back on their feet once through the criminal justice system.