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Drug Policy Alliance
New York, NY (Headquarters)
givvers: jason, tweaks

The Drug Policy Alliance Network (DPA Network) is the nation’s leading organization promoting policy alternatives to the drug war that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

Our supporters are individuals who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. Together we advance policies that reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition, and seek solutions that promote safety while upholding the sovereignty of individuals over their own minds and bodies. We work to ensure that our nation’s drug policies no longer arrest, incarcerate, disenfranchise and otherwise harm millions of nonviolent people. Our work inevitably requires us to address the disproportionate impact of the drug war on people of color.

Drug Policy Alliance is a 501(c)3 organization.

Latest News

Today, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced legislation to reform the country’s money bail system. The proposal – the first of its kind in the U.S. Senate – would provide grants to states to reform their bail system.

“We have a mass incarceration problem in this country, and it starts with our broken bail system,” said Michael Collins, Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “There are people held in jail without trial because they do not have the financial means to post bail. Many are charged with drug offenses, and are casualties of the racist war on drugs.”

The Harris-Paul bill would provide funds for states to replace money bail with pretrial assessments, provide for the presumption of release, ensure counsel, and guarantee a speedy trial for defendants.

Currently, around 60 percent of individuals in jail in the U.S. are pretrial detainees who have not been convicted of any crime. Such a system contradicts the ethos of “innocent until proven guilty,” and has an adverse impact on low-income families and communities of color. While some states have taken steps to reform their criminal justice system, more needs to be done.

Recently, New Jersey’s historic bail reform law has been the focus of national attention as other states grapple with reforming their broken bail systems. The Drug Policy Alliance led the campaign that overhauled New Jersey’s system and the reform resulted in cutting the state jail population by a third. The reform changed the system by 1) declaring non-monetary pretrial release the default option for the majority of defendants; (2) establishing a pretrial services agency in each county to monitor low-risk individuals who are released pending trial; (3) mandating the use of a validated risk assessment tool when evaluating individuals for release; (4) permitting the detention of truly dangerous individuals; and (5) guaranteeing timelines for speedy trial for those who are detained.

Author:
Date Published: July 20, 2017
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new Department of Justice policy that increases the ability of state and local law enforcement to profit from civil forfeiture. This is a reversal of an Obama-era policy implemented in 2015 that limited state and local law enforcement from transferring seized property to federal agencies in exchange for receiving up to 80 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the seized property. Advocates say that Sessions’ reversal of DOJ policy will incentivize police to exploit the war on drugs as an excuse to permanently take cars, cash and other property from people without needing to convict or even charge the property owner with any criminal wrongdoing.

“President Trump’s attorney general has just handed state and local police greater ability to profit from the seizure of your cars, cash and other property without having to prove any criminal wrongdoing,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Attorney General is taking this country down a destructive and foolish path by escalating failed drug war tactics like civil forfeiture that disproportionately hurt people of color and individuals who can’t afford to fight the forfeiture,” said Smith.

Federal civil forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property from persons without any proof of criminal wrongdoing. Civil forfeiture begins when a federal, state or local law enforcement agency seizes property during a traffic stop or other encounter and takes legal action against the property seized from its owner by alleging that the seized property is connected in some way to illegal drugs or other criminal activity. Property owners do not need to be charged or convicted of a crime in order for law enforcement to seize property; police need to only suspect the property of being involved in a drug law violation to seize and forfeit it. In the 1970s and 1980s, Congress expanded the use of civil forfeiture by federal, state and local law enforcement in the name of fighting the war on drugs. Numerous law enforcement agencies took advantage of these expanded policies to profit from the confiscation of cash and other property from people during roadside stops and other interactions.

In recent years, there has been strong bipartisan momentum for major civil forfeiture reform both in Congress and statehouses across the country. A growing number of states are reforming their forfeiture laws in the interest of protecting the rights of property owners and eliminating perverse incentives like those perpetuated by the Equitable Sharing Program. In October, the most populous state in the nation, California, passed sweeping civil forfeiture reform that removed the financial incentives for law enforcement to seize property and pursue forfeitures with federal agencies in cases where one is arrested, charged or convicted of a crime. California’s reform effort added to a growing list of states ― including Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Tennessee, Virginia, Wyoming ― who have taken a stance against policing for profit.

In Congress, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) in the House have sponsored the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act (S.642/H.R. 1555). This strong bipartisan bill would undo the actions taken by Attorney General Sessions today by eliminating the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program that has incentivized state and local law enforcement to transfer cash and property in circumvention of state law. Last year, the House Judiciary Committee passed a more incremental civil forfeiture reform bill. Groups that have supported comprehensive reform come from across the political spectrum.

“Congress needs to take up comprehensive civil forfeiture reform and reign in the excessive use of federal forfeiture by Sessions,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “A major overhaul of federal civil forfeiture laws by Congress has been long overdue to help innocent people get their wrongfully seized property back from the government,” said Smith.

In 2015, the Drug Policy Alliance released “Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California,” a multi-year, comprehensive look at forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have utilized the adoptive forfeiture process in violation of state and federal law.

Author:
Date Published: July 19, 2017
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

Today, Uruguay will begin sales of legal marijuana for adult residents. The marijuana legalization proposal was put forward by former President José Mujica in 2012 as part of a comprehensive package aimed at improving public safety. Uruguay’s parliament gave final approval to the measure in December 2013, making theirs the first country in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults.

“This is a historic moment,” says Hannah Hetzer, Senior International Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. “In recent years, Latin American leaders have decried the staggering human, environmental and financial costs of the War on Drugs in their region. Uruguay is boldly demonstrating that concrete alternatives to failed prohibitionist policies are possible.”

In 2013, a broad coalition emerged to support the proposal, which included LGBT, women’s rights, health, student, environmental and human rights organizations, alongside trade unions, doctors, musicians, lawyers, athletes, writers, actors and academics, united under the campaign Regulación Responsable (“Responsible Regulation”).

The Uruguayan model allows four forms of access to marijuana: medical marijuana through the Ministry of Public Health; domestic cultivation of up to six plants per household; membership clubs where up to 45 members can collectively produce up to 99 plants; and licensed sale in pharmacies to adult residents. Regulation will be overseen by the government’s Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA). Sales to minors, driving under the influence of marijuana, and all forms of advertising are prohibited.

“Uruguay’s model will look quite different from the eight U.S. states that have legalized marijuana,” Hetzer continued. “There is no one-size-fits-all marijuana legalization system. It’s important for each jurisdiction to tailor marijuana regulation to their local needs and contexts, providing the world with different models to learn from.”

Since the bill was passed in 2013, the government has been developing regulations, registering domestic cultivators and membership clubs, and preparing for the implementation of licensed sales in pharmacies. Two companies have received licenses to produce the marijuana sold in pharmacies, which will be available next week at $1.30 per gram. Each registered individual will be allowed to buy up to 40 grams a month.

Implementing licensed sales in pharmacies took longer than anticipated, due to a presidential election in 2015, a delay in funding for the IRCCA, and the government’s commitment to moving forward cautiously.

Marijuana reform gained remarkable momentum throughout the hemisphere in recent years. Twenty-nine U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, while eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana more broadly. Jamaica decriminalized marijuana for medical, scientific and religious purposes; Colombia and Puerto Rico legalized medical marijuana through executive orders; Chile allows for marijuana cultivation for oncology patients; Mexico recently passed a medical marijuana bill a year after their Supreme Court ruled that prohibition of marijuana for personal consumption is unconstitutional; and Canada is set to become the next country to fully legalize marijuana.

Author:
Date Published: July 19, 2017
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

On May 31st, the AP announced over 200 changes to their Stylebook – including some guidance on how to write about addiction. Words like ‘addict’ and ‘abuser’ were to be avoided and replaced with more person-first and less pejorative language. Many have lauded this move as a step in the right direction- to help increase compassion and understanding for people who struggle with their substance use.

However, it is apparent that not all publications are following suit and that a change in the language is not enough to shift our deeply-ingrained cultural stigma against people who use substances. We as a society still have clear ideas of who substance users are, what they are like, and whether they are worthy of dignity and respect, even though these are often inaccurate and misinformed. We don’t have to look far to find clear examples in our media that perpetuate these deep stigmas. Here are just two published within 24 hours of one another:

Last Friday Mother Jones published a piece by Kevin Drum, which was likely intended to poke fun at the not-so-surprising (in his opinion) results of a recently published study on public attitudes towards policies impacting the homeless.

The study found that, despite supporting programs to help the homeless, many respondents also backed prohibitive policies which disproportionately impact the homeless such as bans on sleeping outdoors or panhandling. The researchers believe that these opposing feelings can be explained by the feeling of disgust – that the public may have compassion, but they also have a desire to maintain a distance from this population.

In Drum’s attempt to minimize the significance of the study’s findings, he wrote: “No kidding. About half the homeless suffer from a mental illness and a third abuse either alcohol or drugs. You’d be crazy not to have a reflexive disgust of a population like that. Is that really so hard to get?” Drum’s point being- of course people with mental illness and/or problems with substances are viewed as disgusting. Not a big deal.

The New York Times is another publication not yet ready to promote changes in word usage around addiction. Just this weekend they published a piece in their Business section entitled, “The Lawyer, The Addict” in which a woman described how she spent the past several years trying to understand and put together the story of her ex-husband’s addiction after his tragic death. She wrote, “Peter, one of the most successful people I have ever known, died a drug addict, felled by a systemic bacterial infection common to intravenous users.”

The piece shifted between two main areas: one, her disbelief that someone like her ex-husband would use drugs or become addicted, and two, that problematic substance use is woefully unaddressed amongst legal professionals. While her second area of focus was an important one, my concerns lie with the assumptions embedded in her first.

Although it was apparent that she deeply cared about her ex-husband and saw him as a caring father, she struggled to see how he could also have developed an addiction. He didn’t fit the traditional narrative of a drug user she (and others) had been led to believe- he was a professional, a family man, and smart. Because of this, they never saw that he was a sensitive person working in a stressful environment who was burning out on the job and trying to find a way to cope with so many competing demands.

All of this is to say that media still has an important role to play in larger societal discourse and the choices they make can have real consequences- whether it’s a choice in language, phrasing, or even in deciding which stories to run and how to frame them. The two stories I highlighted above both reflect the same problem we have had in how we represent people who use substances- we have been taught to view them as outsiders and people from whom to maintain a distance, rather than people worthy of compassion and dignity. People like us.

Sheila P Vakharia is the Policy Manager of the Office of Academic Engagement for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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Author: Sheila P Vakharia
Date Published: July 19, 2017
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

La junta de directores del Drug Policy Alliance anunció hoy su decisión unánime de nombrar a Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno como la nueva directora ejecutiva de su organización.

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno viene con trece años de experiencia en política de drogas a nivel nacional e internacional como miembro de Human Rights Watch, donde actualmente ocupa el puesto de Co-Directora del Programa de los EE.UU.

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno sucederá al fundador del Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, quien renunció el 1 de mayo luego de 17 años como director ejecutivo.

Ira Glasser, Presidente de la Junta del DPA, expresó "Nos alegra haber encontrado una persona con tal pasión por revertir y remediar los efectos destructivos de la guerra contra las drogas, que cuenta además con el conocimiento, la experiencia y la persistencia para hacerlo".

El compromiso de McFarland Sánchez-Moreno con la justicia social y con las reformas de la política de drogas se remonta a su niñez, mayormente vivida en el Perú. También la marcó fuertemente su trabajo inicial en Human Rights Watch, como investigadora encargada de Colombia, donde el dinero de las drogas ha alimentado masacres y corrupción institucional. En su puesto actual McFarland Sánchez-Moreno lidera un equipo que lucha contra la discriminación racial de la policía, la aplicación de penas excesivas, y políticas de deportación injustas que destruyen a familias, asuntos todos que se encuentran entremezclados con el manera cruel e irracional que Estados Unidos ha abordado el tema de las drogas.

Durante su período en Human Rights Watch, McFarland Sánchez-Moreno instó a su organización para que trate la guerra contra drogas más directamente como un asunto de derechos humanos. Como resultado, en 2013 Human Rights Watch se convirtió en la primera organización internacional de derechos humanos de renombre que demandó la despenalización del consumo personal y la tenencia de drogas, así como una más amplia reforma al tratamiento global de las drogas.

“La guerra contra las drogas es la raíz causal de muchas de las injusticias que he combatido a lo largo de mi carrera”, señaló McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. “Me siento honrada y encantada de aunarme a la causa de poner fin a la guerra contra las drogas, siendo parte de una organización que ya ha estado detrás de reformas significativas en los Estados Unidos y en el extranjero”.

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno asume el mando del Drug Policy Alliance en un momento paradójico en la lucha por acabar con la guerra contra las drogas. La legalización de la marihuana está avanzando rápidamente en diversos estados, y existe apoyo bipartidista a la reducción del número de personas encarceladas y a la promoción de perspectivas enfocadas en la salud para reducir los daños causados por las drogas. A nivel federal, por otro lado, la nueva administración ha pedido redoblar la guerra contra las drogas, con el llamado del presidente a una mayor puesta en vigor de leyes draconianas y penas mínimas obligatorias, argumentando a favor de la expansión del uso de cárceles privadas, rechazando la restauración del derecho al voto a millones de estadounidenses que cargan con una condena por delito mayor, apoyando la medida policial inconstitucional de la “detención y registro” (“stop and frisk” en inglés) y más aún, aduciendo que la construcción de un muro entre los Estados Unidos y México va a aliviar la reciente alza en las sobredosis por opioides.

“No podemos permitir que una cultura del miedo, la ignorancia, y la falta de honradez acerca del tema de las drogas orienten la política en los Estados Unidos”, mencionó McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. “La misión que lleva el Drug Policy Alliance de educar al público y a los legisladores, y de abogar por un tratamiento racional y compasivo al tema de las drogas es más importante que nunca en este tiempo crítico”.

Las declaraciones de McFarland Sánchez-Moreno aparecen regularmente citadas y sus trabajos publicados en la prensa nacional e internacional. El español y el inglés son sus idiomas nativos. Ha brindado testimonio ante el Congreso de EE.UU. en varias ocasiones y cuenta con amplia experiencia abogando por sus posiciones frente a oficinas del Congreso, la Casa Blanca, y los Departamentos de Estado, de Justicia y de Defensa. McFarland Sánchez-Moreno recientemente terminó de escribir un libro de actualidad titulado There are no Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia (que se puede traducir al españolcomoAquí No Hay Muertos: Una Historia de Asesinato y Negación en Colombia), que será publicado por Nation Books en febrero de 2018.

Puede ver una foto en alta resolución de Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno en el enlace siguiente.

Acerca del Drug Policy Alliance

El Drug Policy Alliance es la organización líder a nivel nacional en la promoción de políticas de drogas cimentadas en la ciencia, la compasión, la salud y los derechos humanos.

El Drug Policy Alliance sostiene que la guerra contra las drogas ha generado más daños que beneficios, promueve políticas para la reducción de los daños causados tanto por el consumo de drogas como por el de su prohibición y busca soluciones que promuevan la seguridad respetando a la vez la soberanía del individuo sobre su propio cuerpo y mente. El Drug Policy Alliance busca asegurar que nuestras políticas internas de droga dejen de arrestar, encarcelar, privar de sus derechos o de cualquier otro modo afectar a millones – especialmente a gente joven y gente de color, los cuales de manera desproporcionada sufren los efectos de la guerra contra las drogas.

Las personas que apoyan al Drug Policy Alliance provienen de diversos ámbitos, de ahí que su Junta de Miembros Honorariosincluya figuras destacadas en ambos extremos del espectro político, tales como individuos reconocidos por su liderazgo en del mundo de los negocios, el derecho, la medicina, el periodismo y la política– desde Sting, Russell Simmons y Arianna Huffington, hasta personas que desempeñaron cargos de Secretario de Estado, Secretario de Defensa, Médico General, Procurador General, y Presidente de la Reserva Federal de los Estados Unidos.

Author:
Date Published: July 18, 2017
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Policy Alliance board of directors announced today its unanimous decision to appoint Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno as the organization’s new executive director.

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno brings nearly thirteen years of international and domestic drug policy experience from her work at Human Rights Watch, where she currently serves as Co-Director of the US Program.

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno will succeed Drug Policy Alliance founder and former executive director Ethan Nadelmann, who stepped down on May 1st, after 17 years.

Ira Glasser, Drug Policy Alliance board president, said, "We are excited to have found someone with such passion to reverse and remedy the destructive effects of the drug war, and with the knowledge, experience and persistence to do it."

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno’s commitment to social justice and drug policy reform dates from her childhood, which she spent mostly in Peru. She was strongly influenced by her early work at Human Rights Watch researching Colombia, where drug profits fueled massacres and official corruption. In her current position, McFarland Sánchez-Moreno leads a team advocating against racial discrimination in policing, excessive sentencing, and unfair deportation policies that tear families apart, all issues closely intertwined with the United States’ cruel and irrational approach to drugs.

During her tenure at Human Rights Watch, McFarland Sánchez-Moreno pressed the organization to more directly address the war on drugs as a human rights issue. As a result, in 2013 Human Rights Watch became the first major international human rights organization to call for decriminalization of the personal use and possession of drugs and global drug reform more broadly.

“The war on drugs is a root cause of many of the injustices I have fought throughout my career,” said McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. “I’m both honored and delighted to now take on the cause of ending the war on drugs, as part of an organization that has already been behind groundbreaking reforms in the U.S. and abroad.”

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno assumes the helm of the Drug Policy Alliance at a paradoxical moment in the fight against the war on drugs. In multiple states, marijuana legalization is moving forward rapidly, and there is bipartisan support for reducing the numbers of people behind bars and promoting health-based approaches to reducing the harms of drugs. At the federal level, on the other hand, the new administration is doubling down on the war on drugs, with the president calling for greater enforcement of draconian drug laws and mandatory minimum sentences, arguing for greater use of private prisons, rejecting the restoration of voting rights for the millions of Americans living with a felony conviction, supporting unconstitutional “stop and frisk” policing, and even claiming that building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border would alleviate the recent surge in opioid overdoses.

“We cannot allow fearmongering, ignorance, and dishonesty about drugs to drive policy in the United States,” said McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. “At this critical time, the Drug Policy Alliance’s mission of educating the public and policymakers, and advocating for a rational, compassionate approach to drugs, is more important than ever.”

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno is regularly quoted and published in national and international media and is a native speaker of both English and Spanish. She has testified before Congress on multiple occasions and has extensive experience advocating with U.S. Congressional offices, the White House, and the Departments of State, Justice and Defense.  McFarland Sánchez-Moreno recently authored a non-fiction book, There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia, which will be published by Nation Books in February 2018.

A high-resolution headshot of Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno is available here.

About the Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

The Drug Policy Alliance believes the war on drugs is doing more harm than good, advances policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and seeks solutions that promote safety while upholding the sovereignty of individuals over their own minds and bodies. The Drug Policy Alliance works to ensure that our nation’s drug policies no longer arrest, incarcerate, disenfranchise and otherwise harm millions – particularly young people and people of color who are disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

Drug Policy Alliance supporters come from all walks of life, and its Honorary Board includes prominent figures from both ends of the political spectrum, including individuals renowned for their leadership in the fields of business, law, medicine, media and politics– from Sting, Russell Simmons and Arianna Huffington to a former U.S. secretary of state, secretary of defense, surgeon general, attorney general, and chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Author:
Date Published: July 18, 2017
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

Next week, Uruguay will begin sales of legal marijuana for adult residents. The marijuana legalization proposal was put forward by former President José Mujica in 2012 as part of a comprehensive package aimed at improving public safety. Uruguay’s parliament gave final approval to the measure in December 2013, making theirs the first country in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults.

In 2013, a broad coalition emerged to support the proposal, which included LGBT, women’s rights, health, student, environmental and human rights organizations, alongside trade unions, doctors, musicians, lawyers, athletes, writers, actors and academics, united under the campaign Regulación Responsable (“Responsible Regulation”).

Uruguay’s model will look quite different from the eight U.S. states that have legalized marijuana. Since there is no one-size-fits-all marijuana legalization system, it’s important for each jurisdiction to tailor marijuana regulation to their local needs and contexts, providing the world with different models to learn from.

The Uruguayan model allows four forms of access to marijuana: medical marijuana through the Ministry of Public Health; domestic cultivation of up to six plants per household; membership clubs where up to 45 members can collectively produce up to 99 plants; and licensed sale in pharmacies to adult residents. Regulation will be overseen by the government’s Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA). Sales to minors, driving under the influence of marijuana, and all forms of advertising are prohibited.

Since the bill was passed in 2013, the government has been developing regulations, registering domestic cultivators and membership clubs, and preparing for the implementation of licensed sales in pharmacies. Two companies have received licenses to produce the marijuana sold in pharmacies, which will be available next week at $1.30 per gram. Each registered individual will be allowed to buy up to 40 grams a month.

Marijuana reform gained remarkable momentum throughout the hemisphere in recent years. Twenty-nine U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, while eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana more broadly. Jamaica decriminalized marijuana for medical, scientific and religious purposes; Colombia and Puerto Rico legalized medical marijuana through executive orders; Chile allows for marijuana cultivation for oncology patients; Mexico recently passed a medical marijuana bill a year after their Supreme Court ruled that prohibition of marijuana for personal consumption is unconstitutional; and Canada is set to become the next country to fully legalize marijuana.

This is a historic moment. In recent years, Latin American leaders have decried the staggering human, environmental and financial costs of the war on drugs in their region. Uruguay is boldly demonstrating that concrete alternatives to failed prohibitionist policies are possible.

Hannah Hetzer is Senior International Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org)

View more blog posts.

Author: Hannah Hetzer
Date Published: July 14, 2017
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

Trenton — Today, Governor Christie OKed Senate Bill 677 / Assembly Bill 3677 with minor changes.  The Governor did what is known as a conditional veto, amending certain language in the bill.  The additional language requires an analysis of the public safety impact of criminal sentencing legislation along with the ethnic and racial impact statements originally required by the bill.  S677 / A3677 is sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-Essex) and Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (D-Paterson). Similar to fiscal impact statements, racial and ethnic impact statements assist legislators in detecting unforeseen policy ramifications.

“This is a huge victory for racial justice,” said Reverend Charles Boyer, of Salvation and Social Justice and Pastor of Bethel AME Church in Woodbury. “Despite New Jersey’s success in reducing its incarcerated population, our state still has the worst racial disparities within the criminal justice system in the country. Racial and ethnic impact statements are an important first step to righting the wrongs of mass incarceration in our state and we are thankful to Governor Christie and the New Jersey Legislature for their support of this critical policy.”

New Jersey is the fifth state to pass a law requiring policymakers to consider the racial and ethnic impact of certain policies—Iowa, Oregon, Connecticut, and Illinois have already implemented similar legislation.  If approved by the legislature, the bill will make New Jersey the first state to require the broader public safety analysis.

“Our criminal justice system has produced profoundly unequal outcomes across racial groups, despite policies that are race neutral on their face,” said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Racial and ethnic impact statements are an important tool to help assess proposed legislation and prevent discriminatory outcomes.  The additional public safety impact statement, if done well, will add to the information that legislators and the public have to effectively consider the merits of sentencing legislation.”

Drug Policy Alliance was part of a broad coalition of civil rights, racial justice and faith-based organizations and individuals, led by Salvation and Social Justice that supported the passage of this legislation. Salvation and Social Justice is a New Jersey-based coalition of clergy and civil rights organizations which seek to fight structural and institutional racism through policy, advocacy, education and reform.

The coalition includes the following organizations: American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program and Prison Watch Program; American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey; Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey; Asbury Park Education Justice Collective; Asbury United Methodist Church, Atlantic City; A Better Way, Inc.; Interdenominational Alliance of New Brunswick and Vicinity; Black Lives Matter – New Jersey: Atlantic City; Bethel AME Church of Woodbury; Mount Teman AME Church; Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Princeton/Trenton Chapter; Communications Workers of America – New Jersey; Drug Policy Alliance; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Trinity Episcopal Church, Princeton; Fair Share Housing Center; Faith in New Jersey; First Unitarian Universalist Church of Hunterdon County; Food Justice at Trinity Asbury Park; Friendship American Methodist Church; Grace and Peace; UU Legislative Ministry of New Jersey; Orange Interfaith Coalition of Pastors and Laity; Latino Action Network; Temple Shalom; Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey; Opportunities for All, Inc.; National Religious Campaign Against Torture; Metuchen Democrats; Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Pleasantville; NAACP – Gloucester County; NAACP – Morris County; NAACP New Jersey State Conference; National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County; National Organization for Women, Northern NJ Chapter; New Jersey Association on Correction; New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness; New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; New Jersey Parents Caucus; Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church; Recovery Advisory Group; Reformed Church of Highland Park; Salvation and Social Justice; St. Paul AME Church; Students for Prison Education and Reform; Trenton Violence Reduction Strategy; Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair; Unitarian Universalist Church of Cherry Hill; Wardlaw-Hartridge School; and Women Who Never Give Up, Inc.

Author:
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Published by Drug Policy Alliance