News Release ~ 02/10/2011

New Report Offers Blueprint to Repair America’s Broken Criminal Justice System Legislation Proposed This Week Embraces Major Recommendation

PRESS CONFERENCE CALL: 11:00 am eastern; dial-in info— 1.866.757.5629; ID #43376080

Washington, DC (February 10, 2011) – Today, a diverse coalition of the nation’s leading criminal justice reform organizations released Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Administration and Congress among the most comprehensive reports ever published to address the problems confronting America’s criminal justice system.

In its review of virtually every major criminal justice issue—from overcriminalization to forensic science—from juvenile justice to the death penalty—and from indigent defense to executive clemency— the report serves as both a source of information and a spur to action for the Administration and Congress.

Just two days before the release of the Smart on Crime report, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) reintroduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act which would “create a blue-ribbon, bipartisan commission of experts charged with undertaking an 18-month top-to-bottom review” of the nation’s criminal justice system and offering concrete recommendations for reform. The establishment of such a commission is among the major recommendations of the report.

Virginia Sloan, President of The Constitution Project, said about Smart on Crime, “The criminal justice system is supposed to be about justice—for victims, for those rightly and wrongly accused and convicted of crimes, and for all of us. But a system that costs too much and makes so many mistakes provides justice for no one. Smart on Crime contains an ever-increasing and bipartisan consensus on how to fix the problems that have for too long plagued the system.”

In addition to its recommendation that a National Criminal Justice Commission be formed, the report—developed and published by the Smart on Crime Coalition, a group of more than 40 bipartisan organizations and individuals—offers nearly 100 detailed policy recommendations across 16 criminal justice areas. While contributors do not necessarily have positions on each issue addressed, there was universal agreement that the current system—with its rampant cost, inefficiency, and injustices—is in urgent need of reform.

“Overcriminalization of federal law threatens every American’s liberty and drains the public coffers with pointless prosecutions and unnecessary incarcerations,” said Norman Reimer, Executive Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “We urge every elected official to end the madness that has produced over 4,450 federal criminal statutes, and countless tens of thousands more arising from the unchecked power of regulatory authorities.”

A Smart on Crime Web site was also created to provide policy-makers, media and the public with quick and easy access to the report. In addition, visitors to besmartoncrime.org can hear report contributors share their insights on criminal justice system problems and solutions in videotaped interviews.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  
Paul Cates- Innocence Project; pcates@innocenceproject.org
Allison Conyers- Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth; aconyers@fairsentencingofyouth.org
Dallas Jamison- The Constitution Project; djamison@constitutionproject.org
Jack King- National Assoc. of Criminal Defense Lawyers; jack@nacdl.org and Ivan Dominguez; ivan@nacdl.org
Jeanine Plant-Chirlin- Brennan Center for Justice; jeanine.plant-chirlin@nyu.edu
Monica Pratt- Families Against Mandatory Minimums; monica@famm.org

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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