The 40-year-old "war on drugs" and the criminalization of addiction have placed communities at odds with law enforcement, prosecutors and courts -- to the detriment of justice and respect for the rule of law. The violence driven by the astronomical profits of the illicit drug market and the life-long collateral consequences for those snared by drug laws will continue to exile generations from the mainstream.
It might be surprising to hear this from a cop like me, but the solution to our current human rights crisis will ultimately require the legalization and regulation of current illicit drugs.
I retired from a rewarding career with the Maryland State Police in 2007, and since then have had the honor of working as a lawyer and educator in Baltimore, largely in communities composed of people of color. One of the most heartbreaking things to witness - as both a law enforcement officer and a legal educator -- is a "contempt of cop" culture held by many people living in poor and blighted communities. As a police officer I understood that some people dislike the police. As a lawyer I have witnessed a generational feedback loop within communities of color that perpetuates fear, distrust and hatred for the police officers charged with protecting their communities and maintaining order.
This contempt is grounded in the failure of criminal justice system leaders to effectively screen and manage cases to ensure the fair enforcement of laws and distribution of police services in all neighborhoods -- regardless of the socioeconomic and racial demographics. It is also informed by our nation's long history of racial tension and violence between police and minority communities.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
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 22, 2011