Advocates, Scholars and Activists to Gather in Washington, DC on January 14 to Demand Exit Strategy from 40-Year-Long War on Drugs (Press Release)
For Immediate Release: January 6, 2011
CONTACT: Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Yolande Cadore at (646) 508-1790
Civil Rights, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reformers to Hold Town Hall Forum to Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy
Advocates, Scholars and Activists to Gather in Washington, DC on January 14 to Demand Exit Strategy from 40-Year-Long War On Drugs
Participants to Address Racial Profiling, Mass Incarceration, Prohibition-Related Violence, and Their Impact on Black Communities
WASHINGTON, DC— Is the disparate impact of the war on drugs on black communities the next big civil rights struggle? Why are black men imprisoned for drug offenses at 13 times the rate of white men despite equal rates of drug use and selling across races? How do we begin to address the connections between astronomical rates of incarceration, disintegration of black families, and the war on drugs?
These questions and many more will be addressed at a town hall gathering to commemorate Dr. King’s birthday in Washington, D.C, on Friday, January 14 at First Baptist Church (712 Randolph St. N.W., Washington, DC) from 6:30-9p.m. The town hall is organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute of the Black World 21st Century / Black Family Summit, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS of DC and Vicinity.
The town hall meeting – “Ending the 40 Year Drug War: Promoting Policies That Rebuild/Reclaim Our Families and Communities” – will bring together a diverse group of scholars, community activists, social service providers, and religious and political leaders. They will discuss viable alternatives to the quagmire of the misdirected war on drugs, which has torn apart the fabric of many communities.
Speakers and panelists include:
*Dr. Tricia Bent-Goodley, Professor, Howard University, School of Social Work
*Dr. Annelle Primm, Director of Minority and National Affairs, American Psychiatric Association
*Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance
*Judge Arthur Burnett, Executive Director, National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Howard University School of Law
*Dr. Ron Daniels, President, Institute of the Black World 21st Century
*Dr. Divine Pryor, Executive Director, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
*Rev. Frank D. Tucker, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church
*Asha Bandele, Director, Advocacy Grants Program, Drug Policy Alliance
*Nkechi Taifa, Esq., Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Institute
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the failed war on drugs. The casualties of this war have come from low-income and communities of color. High rates of incarceration, fueled in large part by the war on drugs, have led to a breakdown in trust between law enforcement and the communities that they strive to serve and protect. The war on drugs is also responsible for premature deaths from preventable diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV among injecting drug users.
The collateral damage of the drug war has resulted in overwhelming barriers to the creation of vibrant, sustainable and healthy communities. Today, civil rights advocates are honoring Dr. King’s legacy by standing up against the “new Jim Crow” – mass incarceration and the racially disproportionate war on drugs.
For Immediate Release:November 15, 2010
Contact: Alan Barber, (571) 306-2526
Washington, D.C.- Three decades of harsh criminal justice policies have created a large population of ex-offenders that struggle in the labor market long after they have paid their debts to society, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). Because prison records and felony convictions greatly lower ex-offenders' chances of finding work, the United States loses between $57 billion and $65 billion a year in lost output.
“It isn't just that we have the highest incarceration rate in the world, we have created a situation over the last 30 years where about one in eight men is an ex-offender,” said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and a co-author of the report.
The new report, “Ex-offenders and the Labor Market,” found that in 2008 there were between 5.4 million and 6.1 million ex-prisoners and between 12.3 million and 13.9 million ex-felons in the United States. Over 90 percent were men.
In 2008, about one in 33 working-age adults was an ex-prisoner, and about one in 15 working-age adults was an ex-felon. Among working-age men in that same year, about one in 17 was an ex-prisoner and one in eight was an ex-felon.
Because ex-offenders face substantial barriers to employment, the authors estimate that the large ex-offender population in 2008 lowered employment that year by the equivalent of 1.5 million to 1.7 million workers.
"The rise in the ex-offender population overwhelmingly reflects changes in the U.S. criminal Justice system, not changes in underlying criminal activity," says Schmitt. "We incarcerate an astonishing share of non-violent offenders, particularly for drug-related offenses. We have far better ways to handle these kinds of offenses, but so far common sense has not prevailed."
The report warns that in the absence of reforms to the criminal justice system, the share of ex-offenders in the working-age population will rise substantially in coming years, increasing the magnitude of employment and output losses estimated for 2008.