U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is concerned about the nation’s incarceration rate. The U.S. leads the world in this category, in terms of incarceration per 100,000 residents. With 5 percent of the world population, we have 23 percent of the imprisoned population. It’s a matter to which Durbin has been giving thought.
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“I once asked a sitting Supreme Court justice, what topic would you pick for me to have a hearing on? And he said our prison system. Something’s wrong here. We are just filling up the prisons, 38 percent over capacity now in the federal prison system, and we’ve got to ask ourselves, is this making out country safer?”
Durbin says people who commit crimes should be punished, but there may be alternatives to lengthy terms of incarceration. Durbin says special courts for drug cases and for veterans are producing results for the community and for offenders without locking up convicts for long terms. Durbin says he’s for alternatives for those not convicted of violent crime. Sen. James H. Webb Jr. (D-Va.) proposed a commission to examine the situation, but that idea was defeated.