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.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Drug Possession Not A Crime - Brazil

At the end of March, a Brazilian appeals court in São Paulo declared that possession of drugs for personal use is not a criminal offense. Several lower courts had previously ruled in the same way, but the ruling from the São Paulo Justice Court's 6th Criminal Chamber marked the first time an appeals court there had found Brazil's drug law unconstitutional as it pertains to simple drug possession.

The ruling came in the case of Ronaldo Lopes, who was arrested with 7.7 grams of cocaine in three separate bags on the night before Carnival began in 2007. Lopes acknowledged that the drugs were his and said they were for his personal use. Lopes was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison as a drug trafficker. But the appeals court judges threw out the trafficking charge since it was based on an anonymous complaint. It then threw out the possession charge, saying it was unconstitutional.

In his opinion in the case, Judge José Henrique Rodrigues Torres said the law criminalizing drug possession for personal use was invalid because it violated the constitutional principles of harm (there is no harm to third parties), privacy (it is a personal choice), and equality (possessing alcohol is not a crime). "One cannot admit any state intervention, mainly repressive and of penal character, in the realm of personal choice, especially when it comes to legislating morality," he said.

The ruling applies only to Lopes, but can be used as a precedent in other court proceedings. There is no word yet on whether the Brazilian government will appeal.

The ruling comes nearly two years after Brazil changed its drug laws to depenalize -- but not decriminalize -- drug possession for personal use. Under that law, drug possession is still a criminal offense, but penalties are limited to fines, fees, education, and community service.

In his opinion, Torres cited earlier decisions by now retired Judge Maria Lúcia Karam, who told the Chronicle this week the appeals court decision was "praiseworthy" and "significant."


Stop The Drug War

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

PROHIBITION never works it just causes crime & violence. We build 900 new prison beds and hire 150 more correction officers every two weeks. We arrest someone on a drug charge every 17 seconds. We jail more people than any nation. We spend $69 billion a year on the drug war. In 1914 when ALL drugs were legal 1.3% of our population was addicted to drugs, today 1.3% of our population is STILL addicted to drugs. Over 100,000 people have been killed because of the drug war. The only way to control drugs is to regulate them and end the profits available to criminals just like ending alcohol prohibition did. There’s only been one drug success story in history, tobacco, the most deadly and one of the most addictive drugs. Almost half the users quit because of REGULATION, ACCURATE INFORMATION AND MEDICAL TREATMENT. No one went to jail and no one got killed. JOIN EMAIL LIST, WATCH VIDEOS:
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Anonymous said...

your article on prohibition is right on. Maybe when we get rid of the Busch Cheney bunch, the politicians will listen to the MAJORITY of the people again. djw

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