James Webb Shows Leadership Regarding Prison Reform

The senator from Virginia does the right thing.

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By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia has never been afraid to march to the beat of his own drum.

The decorated Vietnam War veteran who served as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, then got elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 2006, has his own views on things, and his own way of stating them.

This week, the Washington Post noted how Webb's spirited support for prison reform is an unlikely cause for a politician from Virginia—which was known for much of the past 20 years as a get tough, hang-'em-high state when it came to criminal offenders. For a time, the commonwealth was right up there with Texas for its willingness to assign, and execute, the death penalty. I cannot imagine the issue of prison reform will win him many votes.

Webb raised the issue in the book on politics he released last year, during the subsequent promotion tour, and as the keynote speaker for a Brookings Institution forum on the topic in December. I can't do justice to the eloquence with which he makes the case but commend his words to you.

Webb should be congratulated. For those of us in Washington who sometimes forget what it looks like, this is called leadership.

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