Drug Policy Alliance Calls for the Release of California’s Nonviolent Drug Offenders

war on drugsLast week, a United States District Court ordered California to immediately take steps to reduce its prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity (down to approximately 110,000 inmates).

In a sharply worded brief, the panel made it clear that Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan did not comply, and it ordered implementation of additional measures such as expanding good time credits.  If those measures are insufficient by December 31, 2013, the Court ordered the state to release inmates identified as low risk (a list that CDCR is now required to develop).  They waived all and any state laws to achieve this end. After 18 months of reductions, primarily through Public Safety Realignment (AB 109), the CDCR population has plateaued at 120,000, and seems to actually be trending up in the past month.

In 2012, a Tulchin Research poll found that 75 percent of Californians surveyed favor alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenses.

The following is a statement from Lynne Lyman, California director for the Drug Policy Alliance

“Despite the overcrowding crisis that has perpetuated for years, California continues to arrest, prosecute, and lock up tens of thousands of people for non-violent drug possession offenses, filling prison and jail beds as fast as Governor Brown can empty them. Furthermore, people of color, and especially Black men, are disproportionately ensnared in our criminal justice system. Blacks comprise just 6.2 percent of California’s population. Yet in 2010, Blacks represented over 18 percent of all felony drug arrests made in the state.  In 2009, the last year with comprehensive data, Blacks represented a staggering 29 percent of all incarcerated people in the state’s prisons.

“Drug sentencing is largely to blame for California’s, and the country’s, overcrowded prisons. This Legislature and this Governor, like those before them refused to create a sentencing reform commission, or to roll back the runaway sentencing inflation of prior decades. Finally the US Supreme Court and the three-judge panel declared that twenty years of fatal neglect is enough. We should start with immediately reducing the sentence for every nonviolent drug offender in state prison and county jail.”

Contact: Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023 Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

About Lynne Lyman

Lynne Lyman is the California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. Based in Los Angeles, Lyman leads DPA’s criminal justice reform work in California and oversees all other aspects of the organization’s policy and advocacy work in the state. A native of Los Angeles, Lyman joined the Drug Policy Alliance in 2012 after working with the civil rights organization, Advancement Project, on violence reduction, community policing and criminal justice reform.


  1. My man is got 32 months for possesion of meth that a long time .He is back in prison .He just has a problem .will never hurt no one.I think thats a long time for drugs.