PI-GRO Letter in Support of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009

October 30, 2009

The Honorable Jim Webb
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Webb:

On behalf of the 150,000 members and affiliates of the American Psychological Association (APA), I am writing in support of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, S. 714. This important legislation seeks to initiate critically needed reforms in the criminal justice system through the creation of a high-profile panel, responsible for providing comprehensive analysis and recommendations for systemic change.

APA is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. Comprising researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students, APA works to advance psychology as a science, profession, and means of promoting health, education, and human welfare.

Psychologists make vital contributions to the criminal justice system in diverse ways, including: providing expert testimony; performing forensic analyses; researching the impact of mental health and substance use within the criminal justice system; studying the causes and consequences of violent and criminal behavior; and coordinating and providing critical mental and behavioral health services for those under correctional control.

With more than 50 percent of the prison population experiencing diagnosable mental and behavioral health needs, any initiative to reform the criminal justice system must address these issues. APA is particularly grateful that S. 714 includes mental and behavioral health in its central charges to the commission. We also are thankful for the provision that grants a seat on the commission to an expert in the areas public, mental, and behavioral health.

In closing, I would like to thank you once again for your leadership efforts in developing the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 and to offer our association’s assistance in gaining passage of this vital legislation. Please contact Micah Haskell-Hoehl, in our Public Interest Government Relations Office, or 202.336.5935, if you would like any additional information.

Sincerely,

Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Public Interest Directorate