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.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fixing The Damage Done By The War On Drugs

FIND LAW - Since the Nixon Administration, our nation has been engaging in a relentless, yet futile War on Drugs--not on crime, but specifically on drugs. This war has not only been costly, but also done virtually nothing to stem the influx of drugs into our nation or Americans' drug use. In fact, some have argued that the War on Drugs has actually created incentives for illicit drug manufacturers to develop new products such as methamphetamine and Ecstasy, as well as to develop better and more efficient distribution channels through Mexico, and perhaps even China.

And yet, despite clear indications that we long ago lost this war (at least as defined by the ways we are fighting it and the rhetoric we use), we mindlessly continue along the same path.

But despite all this despairing history, there now is a glimmer of hope for more sane drug sentencing - in the form of two December 10 decisions from the Supreme Court.

The Cost, and the Failure, of the War on Drugs

What this War on Drugs has accomplished is nothing short of shocking and disheartening. Of the estimated nine million persons incarcerated worldwide, over two million, or over 22%, are located here in the United States--a country that makes up less than five percent of the world's population and purports to be the leader of the free world.

Not surprisingly, we also lead the world in incarceration rates, at 714 per 100,000 persons. In contrast, according to the World Prison Population List commissioned by King's College of London, the median prison population rates for African countries is 52 to 324, the Americas 152 to 324, Asia 55 to 386, and Europe 80 to 184. And this is to say nothing of the gross racial disparities we continue to see with respect to the incarceration rates of certain minority groups in this country.

The Culprit for the U.S.'s Staggering Incarceration Rate: Mandatory Minimums

These outrageous statistics primarily are the result of simplistic, overly-punitive drug sentencing policies, first promulgated in the 1980s, known as mandatory minimum sentences. These mandatory minimum laws require, as I discussed in a prior column, a mandatory five years of imprisonment for a mere five grams of crack cocaine, and ten years for ten grams.

But along with these draconian mandatory sentences also came an inherent disparity: For what is virtually the same drug--powder cocaine--the penalties were 100 times less severe. This led to extreme racial disparities in prosecutions and sentences, with African-American men suffering the brunt of these ill-conceived law. Read More atFind Law

Thanks for this find goes to Doug Berman (Sentencing Law and Policy)

1 comment:

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