The War on Drugs Never Ended

It will be up to thousands of state and local prosecutors to kill it once and for all. n a memo circulated in May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors to seek the maximum penalty possible in every case. He didn’t single out any particular crimes for harsh sentencing, indicating that all offenses—including simple drug possession—should be punished in the harshest allowable manner. Sessions later defended the decision in a Washington Post opinion piece, arguing that a … [Read more...]

Michelle Alexander: Sentence Enhancement for Drug Offenders Is a tool of Community Destruction

Ten years ago in Los Angeles, Theresa Martinez was finally making progress in her long, painful struggle against drug addiction and the cycle of incarceration it fueled. But in order to continue her methadone program, she needed $200. Homeless, unemployed, and terrified of falling back into heroin addiction, she tried to get the money the only way she knew: selling drugs. Martinez was arrested for a $5 sale of cocaine, a felony that, absent aggravating factors, carried a three-year prison … [Read more...]

The War on Drugs Isn’t Even Working in Prison

Twice a week, a line of prisoners forms outside the communal bathroom in the education building here at the California State Prison in Los Angeles County. One latex-gloved guard sits at a small desk outside the toilet area, checking identification cards against a computer printout. After confirming you’re on the list, he takes a small piece of cloth, rubs it on one of your hands, and then slips it into a small baggie with your name on it. Another gloved guard looms, holding a small, clear, … [Read more...]

Nixon Advisor Said “War on Drugs” Concocted to Target Blacks

We have known for years that the war on drugs is a war on Black people, their families and their communities. Books such as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crowhave made a compelling case that through the machinations of the criminal justice system, a new caste system has been created in the U.S., and African-Americans have become the raw materials for mass incarceration.  Now, there is evidence that going after Black people was all by design, that this is how the Nixon administration had … [Read more...]

Leading Medical Experts Call for Drug Policy Overhaul, Including Decriminalizing Drugs and Exploring Legal Regulation

As policymakers weigh “what to do about drugs,” they almost always focus on the potential harms of drugs and almost never on the harms of our drug policies themselves. But earlier today an esteemed group of researchers issued a comprehensive report on public health and international drug policy that documents in meticulous detail the catastrophic health consequences of the global war on drugs. Coming together as Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health, twenty-six scientists … [Read more...]

Nancy Reagan’s Role in the Disastrous War on Drugs

Nancy Reagan, the former first lady and widow of President Ronald Reagan died on Sunday in California at age 94. Front pages around the world are remembering her life. The stories all talk about the powerful love between Nancy and Ronald and her impactful role as first lady. When highlighting her advocacy, one of the first things that often pops up is her starring role in President Reagan’s embrace and amplification of the war on drugs. Nancy's "Just Say No" campaign became her signature issue … [Read more...]

Prop. 47, Other Reforms Correctly Prioritize Prevention Over Punishment

When I was a police captain in Inglewood in 1993, the crime rate was more than twice as high as it is today. Concerns about crime created a “lock ’em up” mentality, driving lawmakers to create a system based on incarceration. Between 1984 and 1991 lawmakers passed more than 1,000 new crime bills, many of which increased penalties. Meanwhile, California voters approved the nation’s toughest Three Strikes policy. After spending my entire career in law enforcement and corrections, it’s clear … [Read more...]

Religious Declaration for New Drug Policy

As voices of faith, we call for an end to the War on Drugs which the United States has waged, at home and abroad, for over 40 years. This War has failed to achieve its stated objectives; deepened divisions between rich and poor, black, white, and brown; squandered over one trillion dollars; and turned our country into a “prisoner” nation. ver 2.3 million people are now incarcerated in the US, more than any other nation on the planet, including Russia, South Africa, and China. The U.S. to … [Read more...]

If Black Lives Matter, End the War on Crime

#460168154 / rom the perspective of tens of thousands of protesters around the nation this week, the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island reflected an unfathomable decision by white police officers to kill unarmed black men engaged in trivial criminal (if any) behavior. To thousands of police officers (and their families), these deaths fit in a different narrative, one where very large and powerful men responded to lawful police … [Read more...]

War on Drugs Ending?

Voters Across Country Accelerate Unprecedented Momentum to Legalize Marijuana, End Drug War oters across the country have accelerated the unprecedented momentum to legalize marijuana and end the wider drug war, with marijuana legalization measures passing in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., while groundbreaking criminal justice reforms passed in California and New Jersey. “This Election Day was an extraordinary one for the marijuana and criminal justice reform movements,” said Ethan … [Read more...]