Two weeks after Senate Republicans blocked the passage of Senator Jim Webb’s legislation to establish a bipartisan National Criminal Justice Commission, editorials in Saturday’s New York Times and Washington Post criticize the bill’s opponents and argue for the creation of the Commission.
The National District Attorneys Association, which opposes the measure, wrote that the “federal government should never be in the business of auditing state and local criminal justice systems.”
These criticisms fall flat. The panel would only study the policies of local, state and national law enforcement entities and make recommendations about best practices. It would have no power to issue mandates. The federal government, which distributes federal dollars as incentives for states and localities to adopt best practices, has a legitimate need to know which policies work.
The National Criminal Justice Commission Act would be a valuable first step toward reducing crime as well as punishment. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans derailed the bill recently, with some falsely claiming that it would encroach on states’ rights.