NATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION ACT OF 2010 -- (House of
Representatives - July 27, 2010)
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the
rules and pass the bill (H.R. 5143) to establish the National Criminal Justice
Commission, as amended.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``National Criminal Justice
Commission Act of 2010''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that--
(1) it is in the interest of the Nation to establish a
commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system;
(2) there has not been a comprehensive study since the
President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice was
established in 1965;
(3) that commission, in a span of 18 months, produced a
comprehensive report entitled ``The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society,''
which contained 200 specific recommendations on all aspects of the criminal
justice system involving Federal, State, tribal, and local governments, civic
organizations, religious institutions, business groups, and individual citizens;
(4) developments over the intervening 45 years require
once again that Federal, State, tribal, and local governments, civic
organizations, religious institutions, business groups, and individual citizens
come together to review evidence and consider how to improve the criminal
SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.
There is established a commission to be known as the
``National Criminal Justice Commission'' (referred to in this Act as the
SEC. 4. PURPOSE OF THE COMMISSION.
The Commission shall undertake a comprehensive review of
the criminal justice system, encompassing current Federal, State, local, and
tribal criminal justice policies and practices, and make reform recommendations
for the President, Congress, State, local, and tribal governments.
SEC. 5. REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATIONS.
(a) General Review.--The Commission shall
undertake a comprehensive review of all areas of the criminal justice system,
including Federal, State, local, and tribal governments' criminal justice costs,
practices, and policies.
(b) Findings and Recommendations.--After
conducting a review of the United States criminal justice system as required by
section 5(a), the Commission shall make findings regarding such review and
recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed
to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, reduce recidivism, improve
cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice at every step of the
criminal justice system.
(c) Report Advisory in Nature.--No finding or
recommendation made by the Commission in its report shall be binding on any
Federal, State, Tribal, or local unit of government. The findings and
recommendations of the Commission are advisory in nature.
(d) State and Local Government.--In making its
recommendations, the Commission should consider the financial and human
resources of State and local governments. Recommendations shall not infringe on
the legitimate rights of the States to determine their own criminal laws or the
enforcement of such laws.
(e) Public Hearings.--The Commission shall
conduct public hearings in various locations around the United States.
(f) Consultation With Government and Nongovernment
(1) IN GENERAL.--The Commission shall--
(A) closely consult with Federal, State, local, and tribal
government and nongovernmental leaders, including State, local, and tribal law
enforcement officials, legislators, public health officials, judges, court
administrators, prosecutors, defense counsel, victims' rights organizations,
probation and parole officials, criminal justice planners, criminologists, civil
rights and liberties organizations, formerly incarcerated individuals,
professional organizations, and corrections officials; and
(B) include in the final report required by subsection (g)
summaries of the input and recommendations of these leaders.
(2) UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION.--To the
extent the review and recommendations required by this section relate to
sentencing policies and practices for the Federal criminal justice system, the
Commission shall conduct such review and make such recommendations in
consultation with the United States Sentencing Commission.
(1) REPORT.--Not later than 18 months after the
first meeting of the Commission, the Commission shall prepare and submit a final
report that contains a detailed statement of findings, conclusions, and
recommendations of the Commission to Congress, the President, State, local, and
(2) GOAL OF UNANIMITY.--It is the sense of the
Congress that, given the national importance of the matters before the
Commission, the Commission should work toward unanimously supported findings and
(3) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.--The report submitted
under this subsection shall be made available to the public.
(4) VOTES ON RECOMMENDATIONS IN REPORT.--Consistent
with paragraph (2), the Commission shall state the vote total for each
recommendation contained in its report to Congress.
SEC. 6. MEMBERSHIP.
(a) In General.--The Commission shall be composed
of 14 members, as follows:
(1) 1 member shall be appointed by the President, who
shall serve as co-chairman of the Commission.
(2) 1 member shall be appointed by the minority leader of
the Senate, in consultation with the minority leader of the House of
Representatives, who shall serve as co-chairman of the Commission.
(3) 2 members appointed by the majority leader of the
Senate, in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary.
(4) 2 members appointed by the minority leader of the
Senate, in consultation with the ranking member of the Committee on Judiciary.
(5) 2 members appointed by the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee on
(6) 2 members appointed by the minority leader of the
House of Representatives, in consultation with the ranking member of the
Committee on Judiciary.
(7) 2 members, who shall be State and local
representatives, shall be appointed by the
President in agreement with the minority leader
of the Senate and the minority leader of the House of Representatives.
(8) 2 members, who shall be State and local
representatives, shall be appointed by the President in agreement with the
majority leader of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(1) QUALIFICATIONS.--The individuals appointed from
private life as members of the Commission shall be individuals with
distinguished reputations for integrity and nonpartisanship who are nationally
recognized for expertise, knowledge, or experience in such relevant areas as--
(A) law enforcement;
(B) criminal justice;
(C) national security;
(D) prison and jail administration;
(E) prisoner reentry;
(F) public health, including physical and sexual
victimization, drug addiction and mental health;
(G) victims' rights;
(H) civil liberties;
(I) court administration;
(J) social services; and
(K) State, local, and tribal government.
(2) DISQUALIFICATION.--An individual shall not be
appointed as a member of the Commission if such individual possesses any
personal financial interest in the discharge of any of the duties of the
(3) TERMS.--Members shall be appointed for the life
of the Commission.
(c) Appointment; First Meeting.--
(1) APPOINTMENT.--Members of the Commission shall
be appointed not later than 45 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(2) FIRST MEETING.--The Commission shall hold its
first meeting on the date that is 60 days after the date of enactment of this
Act, or not later than 30 days after the date on which funds are made available
for the Commission, whichever is later.
(3) ETHICS.--At the first meeting of the
Commission, the Commission shall draft appropriate ethics guidelines for
commissioners and staff, including guidelines relating to conflict of interest
and financial disclosure. The Commission shall consult with the Senate and House
Committees on the Judiciary as a part of drafting the guidelines and furnish the
Committees with a copy of the completed guidelines.
(d) Meetings; Quorum; Vacancies.--
(1) MEETINGS.--The Commission shall meet at the
call of the co-chairs or a majority of its members.
(2) QUORUM.--Seven members of the Commission,
including at least 2 members chosen by either the Senate Majority Leader,
Speaker of the House, or Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House in
agreement with the President and 2 members chosen by either the Senate Minority
Leader, House Minority Leader, or Senate Minority Leader and House Minority
Leader in agreement with the President, shall constitute a quorum for purposes
of conducting business, except that 2 members of the Commission shall constitute
a quorum for purposes of receiving testimony.
(3) VACANCIES.--Any vacancy in the Commission shall
not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner in which the
original appointment was made. If vacancies in the Commission occur on any day
after 45 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, a quorum shall
consist of a majority of the members of the Commission as of such day, so long
as at least 1 Commission member chosen by a member of each party, Republican and
Democratic, is present.
(e) Actions of Commission.--
(1) IN GENERAL.--The Commission--
(A) shall act by resolution agreed to by a majority of the
members of the Commission voting and present; and
(B) may establish panels composed of less than the full
membership of the Commission for purposes of carrying out the duties of the
Commission under this title--
(i) which shall be subject to the review and control of
the Commission; and
(ii) any findings and determinations made by such a panel
shall not be considered the findings and determinations of the Commission unless
approved by the Commission.
(2) DELEGATION.--Any member, agent, or staff of the
Commission may, if authorized by the co-chairs of the Commission, take any
action which the Commission is authorized to take pursuant to this Act.
SEC. 7. ADMINISTRATION.
(1) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.--The Commission shall have
a staff headed by an Executive Director. The Executive Director shall be paid at
a rate established for the Certified Plan pay level for the Senior Executive
Service under section 5382 of title 5, United States Code.
(2) APPOINTMENT AND COMPENSATION.--The co-chairs of
the Commission shall designate and fix the compensation of the Executive
Director and, in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may
appoint and fix the compensation of such other personnel as may be necessary to
enable the Commission to carry out its functions, without regard to the
provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the
competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and
subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and
General Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this
subsection may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level V
of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code.
(3) PERSONNEL AS FEDERAL EMPLOYEES.--
(A) IN GENERAL.--The executive director and any
personnel of the Commission who are employees shall be employees under section
2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84,
85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title.
(B) MEMBERS OF COMMISSION.--Subparagraph (A) shall
not be construed to apply to members of the Commission.
(4) THE COMPENSATION OF COMMISSIONERS.--Each member
of the Commission may be compensated at not to exceed the daily equivalent of
the annual rate of basic pay in effect for a position at level V of the
Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each
day during which that member is engaged in the actual performance of the duties
of the Commission. All members of the Commission who are officers or employees
of the United States, State, or local government shall serve without
compensation in addition to that received for their services as officers or
(5) TRAVEL EXPENSES.--While away from their homes
or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission,
members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem
in lieu of subsistence, in the same manner as persons employed intermittently in
the Government service are allowed expenses under section 5703(b) of title 5,
United States Code.
(b) Experts and Consultants.--With the approval
of the Commission, the Executive Director may procure temporary and intermittent
services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code.
(c) Detail of Government Employees.--Upon the
request of the Commission, the head of any Federal agency may detail, without
reimbursement, any of the personnel of such agency to the Commission to assist
in carrying out the duties of the Commission. Any such detail shall not
interrupt or otherwise affect the civil service status or privileges of the
(d) Other Resources.--The Commission shall have
reasonable access to materials, resources, statistical data, and other
information such Commission determines to be necessary to carry out its duties
from the Library of Congress, the Department of Justice, the Office of National
Drug Control Policy, the Department of State, and other agencies of the
executive and legislative branches of the Federal Government. The co-chairs of
the Commission shall make requests for such access in writing when necessary.
(e) Volunteer Services.--Notwithstanding the
provisions of section 1342 of title 31, United States Code, the Commission is
authorized to accept and utilize the services of volunteers serving without
compensation. The Commission may reimburse such volunteers for local travel and
office supplies, and for other travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of
subsistence, as authorized by section 5703 of Title 5, United States Code. A
person providing volunteer services to the Commission shall be considered an
employee of the Federal Government in performance of those services for the
purposes of chapter 81 of title 5 of the United States Code, relating to
compensation for work-related injuries, chapter 171 of title 28 of the United
States Code, relating to tort claims, and chapter 11 of title 18 of the United
States Code, relating to conflicts of interest.
(f) Obtaining Official Data.--The Commission may
secure directly from any agency of the United States information necessary to
enable it to carry out this Act. Upon the request of the co-chairs of the
Commission, the head of that department or agency shall furnish that information
to the Commission. The Commission shall not have access to sensitive information
regarding ongoing investigations.
(g) Mails.--The Commission may use the United
States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other
departments and agencies of the United States.
(h) Administrative Reporting.--The Commission
shall issue bi-annual status reports to Congress regarding the use of resources,
salaries, and all expenditures of appropriated funds.
(i) Contracts.--The Commission is authorized to
enter into contracts with Federal and State agencies, private firms,
institutions, and individuals for the conduct of activities necessary to the
discharge of its duties and responsibilities. A contract, lease or other legal
agreement entered into by the Commission may not extend beyond the date of the
termination of the Commission.
(j) Gifts.--Subject to existing law, the
Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or
(k) Administrative Assistance.--The Administrator
of General Services shall provide to the Commission, on a reimbursable basis,
the administrative support services necessary for the Commission to carry out
its responsibilities under this Act. These administrative services may include
human resource management, budget, leasing, accounting, and payroll services.
(l) Nonapplicability of Faca and Public Access to
Meetings and Minutes.--
(1) IN GENERAL.--The Federal Advisory Committee Act
(5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the Commission.
(2) MEETINGS AND MINUTES.--
(i) ADMINISTRATION.--All meetings of the Commission
shall be open to the public, except that a meeting or any portion of it may be
closed to the public if it concerns matters or information described in section
552b(c) of title 5, United States Code. Interested persons shall be permitted to
appear at open meetings and present oral or written statements on the subject
matter of the meeting. The Commission may administer oaths or affirmations to
any person appearing before it.
(ii) NOTICE.--All open meetings of the Commission
shall be preceded by timely public notice in the Federal Register of the time,
place, and subject of the meeting.
(B) MINUTES AND PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.--Minutes of
each open meeting shall be kept and shall contain a record of the people
present, a description of the discussion that occurred, and copies of all
statements filed. The minutes and records of all open meetings and other
documents that were made available to or prepared for the Commission shall be
available for public inspection and copying at a single location in the offices
of the Commission.
(m) Archiving.--Not later than the date of
termination of the Commission, all records and papers of the Commission shall be
delivered to the Archivist of the United States for deposit in the National
SEC. 8. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
(a) In General.--There are authorized to be
appropriated for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 such sums are as necessary to carry
out the purposes of this Act, not to exceed $7,000,000 per year for each fiscal
year, and not more than $14,000,000 total. None of the funds appropriated under
this Act may be utilized for international travel.
(b) Availability.--Any sums appropriated under
the subsection (a) shall remain available, without fiscal year limitation, until
SEC. 9. SUNSET.
The Commission shall terminate 60 days after it submits
its report to Congress.
SEC. 10. COMPLIANCE WITH PAYGO.
The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of
complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go-Act of 2010, shall be determined by
reference to the latest statement titled ``Budgetary Effects of PAYGO
Legislation'' for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record
by the Chairman of the Committee on the Budget of the House of Representatives,
provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the
gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr.
Smith) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Virginia.
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent
that all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and
include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request
of the gentleman from Virginia?
There was no objection.
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. I yield myself such time as I may
Mr. Speaker, the goal of H.R. 5143 is to examine the
criminal justice system in its entirety in order to make recommendations for
appropriate reform to the President and Congress as well as State, local and
tribal governments. The United States depends on the criminal justice system to
maintain our safety and security and we expect it to be reliable, fair and
effective. It must provide a sense of justice for all Americans, and must treat
victims and their families with compassion.
The last comprehensive review of our criminal justice
system was President Johnson's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration
of Justice conducted more than 45 years ago. Despite the progress in achieving
fair and effective outcomes in the criminal justice system since President
Johnson's commission was convened, there is still work that needs to be done to
fulfill these objectives.
Currently, the United States has the highest reported
incarceration rate in the world. Whereas most countries lock up between 50 and
200 people for every 100,000 in their population, and only a handful of
countries lock up more than 300 per 100,000, the United States leads the world
in over 700 per 100,000 locked up today. This number is particularly egregious
when you review the recent study conducted by Pew Research Center that concluded
that for any rate that exceeds 300 per 100,000, the cost of additional
incarceration produced diminishing returns; and any rate over 500 per 100,000 is
actually counterproductive. The United States' rate again is over 700 per
100,000. Minorities make up an alarmingly disproportionate share of the
incarcerated population of adults and juveniles. In fact, the incarceration rate
for African Americans approaches 4,000 per 100,000 in several States. And when
you consider the Pew study that anything over 500 was counterproductive, we can
see that a lot of money is being wasted in counterproductive incarceration. In
fact, in those 10 States with the incarceration rate of African Americans
approaching 4,000, you could spend thousands of dollars for every child in those
communities with the money that's being wasted now on counterproductive
incarceration. That money could be put in evidence-based programs that have been
shown and proven not only to reduce crime but save more money than the programs
cost. We know that those comprehensive plans work. They work everywhere you put
them into effect; and we need to invest in those rather than counterproductive
H.R. 5143 calls for a distinguished, nonpartisan group of
experts to undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system to
promote broad reform. While this bill calls for an examination of the criminal
justice system, it is intended to advance a national conversation and facilitate
policy changes to complement, not replace, ongoing reform efforts.
The companion bill to this bill was introduced in the
Senate by my Virginia colleague, Senator Jim Webb, who has been a
tireless and strong advocate for this study commission. This bill in the House
has been introduced by a former prosecutor, the gentleman from Massachusetts
(Mr. Delahunt), who has also been a strong advocate for intelligent
criminal justice policies. For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to support
this important legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time
as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 5143 establishes a National Criminal
Justice Commission consisting of a bipartisan panel of 14 experts appointed by
the President, the Majority and Minority Leaders in the Senate, the Speaker and
Minority Leader in the House. The commission will review all areas of the
criminal justice system at the Federal, State, local and tribal levels. It will
also examine national trends in criminal justice costs, practices and policies.
Further, the commission will provide recommendations for
changes to prevent, defer and reduce crime and violence. The recommendations
should also help to reduce recidivism, improve cost effectiveness and ensure the
interests of justice at every step of the criminal justice system.
H.R. 5143 expresses the sense of Congress that the
commission should work towards unanimity in making its findings and
recommendations. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia introduced legislation to
establish this commission in the Senate. The bill is cosponsored by a group of
In the House, my friend from Massachusetts, Bill
Delahunt, a colleague on the Judiciary Committee and a former district
attorney himself, introduced the House companion legislation to establish the
commission. As a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, the gentleman from
Massachusetts reached across the aisle to Republican members, including the
gentleman from California (Mr. Issa) and the gentleman from Florida
(Mr. Rooney) as well as myself to cosponsor this important piece of
I must confess initially to having some concerns about the
bill. Why do we need another commission to do the work and consider the issues
that we in Congress and on the Judiciary Committee ought to be doing? However,
my friend from Massachusetts was insistent and persuasive in convincing me that
the commission will be able to consider the data and underlying policy
considerations without political considerations.
Another reason, Mr. Speaker, to support the measure is that
it will serve as a fitting tribute to our colleague from Massachusetts, who is
retiring at the end of this Congress. Passage of this bill represents an
historic opportunity to undertake a bipartisan, thorough, and comprehensive
review of what works and what does not work at every
level of the criminal justice system. For this,
and for his many other contributions to the American people, we can thank
, who I know is getting ready to speak on this
I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of H.R. 5143. And
before I reserve the balance of my time, I want to thank the gentleman from
Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt) for being such an active and effective
member of the Judiciary Committee, for being a close personal friend, whose
advice I clearly take.
With that, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he
may consume to the lead sponsor of the House bill, former prosecutor, the
gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt).
Mr. DELAHUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Before I begin, let me extend a note of gratitude to the
ranking member from Texas for his kind and generous words. I also want to
indicate that I am wearing a tie that has ``Cape Cod'' emblazoned on this tie
that was given to me by Mr. Smith on behalf of the Republicans on the
Judiciary Committee. At the time, I didn't know whether it was a sign of respect
or affection. Later, I learned it was because I continually wear Cape Cod ties,
that they were concerned that I had no tie without a stain on it.
So Lamar, thank you. Thank you for those kind
words. It's been truly an honor to serve with you and the Republicans on the
Judiciary Committee these past 14 years. We've done, I think, extraordinary
work. We've done it together. We've had our disagreements, but those
disagreements oftentimes yielded a consensus that worked for the benefit of the
This bill, I guess some would consider it rare for a
concept that is supported not only by the American Civil Liberties Union and the
National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, but also the Fraternal Order
of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police to come to this
floor on the suspension calendar. That truly is extraordinary. But all of those
organizations, I would suggest, share the same goal, and that is how do we deal
with crime in America in a way that makes us safer, but saves us money, while
still protecting fundamental American liberties and values?
The bill's been described by my good friend from Virginia
and by Mr. Smith in terms of what it does. It will result in a
commission that will do a comprehensive and holistic review of our criminal
justice system at all levels, Federal, state, and local, and make findings and
recommendations to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence in our country.
It's important to note, too, that the commission will be
tasked with improving the cost-effectiveness of the criminal justice system, so
that tax dollars are not wasted on inefficient, ineffective programs. There are
excellent programs that are working currently. And I believe that they are
responsible to a large degree for the reduction that we have observed in
violence in America. I think this Congress shares some of that credit. But we
don't have to reinvent the wheel. We simply have to identify what works, what
makes sense, and pursue it.
Because let's not forget, it's the State and local
governments that bear most of the burden. That's where the action is. It's no
secret that the States find themselves in profound fiscal straits. On the cover
of the June 28 edition of Time magazine, a State license plate was depicted with
the word ``Bankrupt'' emblazoned on it.
Now, the issues of safety, crime, and justice know no
political party or geographic boundary, as evidenced by the bipartisan support
that this bill has engendered. And let me pause again and thank Mr.
Rooney and Mr. Issa, along with again, let me emphasize, the
great leadership of my chairman, Bobby Scott, on this matter. Along
with Congresswoman Fudge, who I am sure if she is not in the Chamber,
will be running over to speak.
Again, we want to reduce crime. And everywhere we're
concerned that the law enforcement agencies in this country and other groups
have the resources to keep our streets safe. But they also insist that the
system not needlessly waste taxpayer dollars. As Chairman Scott
indicated, the United States currently incarcerates 2.3 million individuals.
It's the highest incarceration rate in the world. More than 90 percent of the
incarcerated adults in this country are incarcerated in the State and local
systems, filling their prisons. And the Pew Center predicts that by 2011,
continued State and local prison growth will cost taxpayers an additional $75
billion. That's simply unsustainable.
This bill will help us battle those rising, escalating
figures, and hopefully continue the decline that we observe in terms of crimes
of violence in this country. It will allow us to take that comprehensive
national review. This is not an audit of individual State systems. It's a
review. There are no mandates. And the commission will issue concrete
Again, as the chairman of the subcommittee alluded to, it's
been more than four decades since a comprehensive review of criminal justice was
conducted. It was 1965 when President Johnson established the Commission on Law
Enforcement and Administration of Justice, the so-called Kerner Commission. The
commission examined criminal justice systems in great detail, and ultimately
reported over 200 recommendations to control crime and improve justice in this
country. The time to take this on is now. I predict it will lead to a safer
America and a smarter, more effective criminal justice system.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I will yield 3 minutes to
the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Rooney) who is an active member of the
Judiciary Committee and also a cosponsor of this legislation.
Mr. ROONEY. Thanks to the ranking member for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5143, the
National Criminal Justice Commission Act. I'm proud to have been an original
cosponsor joining Mr. Delahunt and others on such an important bill,
and I would take liberty to especially thank Mr. Delahunt for seeking
me out, being a freshman, and letting me take a leadership role in this bill,
which I think is going to do a lot of good for fighting crime in this country.
As a former prosecutor, it's important to take a close look
at what works and what does not work in our criminal justice system. This
bipartisan bill will create a commission to study all aspects of our criminal
justice system and report back on what we can do better to prevent crime, reduce
violence, and control costs.
This bill will create a blue ribbon, bipartisan commission
charged with undertaking an 18-month comprehensive review of the Nation's
criminal justice system. The commission will study all areas of the criminal
justice system, including Federal, State, local and tribal governments, criminal
justice costs, practices, and policies. After conducting the review, the
commission will make the recommendations for changes in or continuation of
oversight policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce
crime and violence, improve cost effectiveness, and ensure the interests of
This bill couldn't come at a better time. Every year
Congress continues to add more and more laws to our U.S. code. Yet we haven't
taken a sober look at the existing laws to find what is archaic, what is out of
date, and what is duplicative.
This will be the first time in over 40 years that we will
undertake such a study. I'm proud and honored to be a cosponsor of this bill
along with Ms. Fudge, Mr. Issa, Ranking Member Smith,
and especially Mr. Delahunt. And I encourage all of my colleagues to
support it as well.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests
for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, in closing, this
commission will study our criminal justice system to ascertain what we can do to
use our resources in a more cost-effective manner to reduce crime. We know that
comprehensive approaches to crime work.
In Massachusetts, they had a comprehensive approach to
juvenile crime where they'd had a dozen or so murders every year. They had a
comprehensive approach to the problem. They reduced juvenile murders from 13 a
year to zero for 3 consecutive years.
In Pennsylvania, they invested in comprehensive programs in
a hundred different localities, spent $60 million, and they counted up a few
years later and figured that they had saved over $300 million, five times more
than they spent, because they were so effective in reducing crime and other
In Virginia, they had an area where they had 19 murders one
year. They came in with a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to crime
reduction, and within a couple of years, they had two murders. And if you look
at that $2 1/2 million that was invested in that program, there is no doubt that
we saved at least that much in reduced medical care at the Medical College of
Virginia Trauma Unit. So we know that we can reduce crime and save money.
We know that 700,000 prisoners are being released from
prison--State, local, and Federal--every year, and we know that two-thirds of
them are going right back to prison without intervention. So we need this
opportunity for investments.
We know that the United States' incarceration rate is
number 1 in the world and is already so high that the Pew Research Center says
it's counterproductive. It causes more crime than it cures. And this study will
show what we can do with our resources by showing what works and what does not
and how we can have an intelligent focus on crime policy.
I want to thank the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr.
Delahunt) and my colleague from Virginia, Senator Webb, for
their vision to create a commission to outline effective strategies to reduce
crime. I would hope that we adopt the bill, create the commission, and reduce
I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion
offered by the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott) that the House
suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 5143, as amended.
The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the
affirmative) the rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.