Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

End The Drug War - Maryland

Councilman calls for drug legalization

One Baltimore City Council member wants to change the battle plan for the war on drugs.

Decriminalizing all types of narcotics may be the only option left for quelling the violence of the drug trade, said Council Member Bernard “Jack” Young, who wants the council to hold hearings on the idea.

“We’re losing the war on drugs,” said Young, D-District 12. “When teenagers are getting gunned down on the street because of the drug business, then we have to rethink our approach.

“We need to take the profits out of the drug trade and consider legalizing all types of drugs,” he said.

Illegal drugs are governed by federal law — meaning the City Council has no power to change current policy.

“In California, they tried to decriminalize certain uses of marijuana, but the federal government enforced the law,” said Ed Marcinko, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Baltimore office.

But former Mayor Kurt Schmoke, who proposed decriminalization in 1988, said he still believes the strategy is viable.

“Many people are hooked on drugs, but others are hooked on the money from drugs, and they’re doing all the killing,” he said. “We need to make the drugs a public health problem, not a criminal problem.”

But city leaders disagree with Young.

“Mayor Sheila Dixon is opposed to the decriminalization of drugs,” spokesman Anthony McCarthy said.

City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also disagreed.

“She understands that the drug trade is 99 percent of the root cause of violence,” said Shaun Adamec, her spokesman. “But it’s an idea that needs to be addressed on a national level.”

Tim Lynch, director of the libertarian Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, said Young’s proposal is sound. “We spend about $40 billion a year trying to keep drugs from coming into the country, and they’re everywhere,” he said.

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