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.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Congressional Hearings On Drug Violence In Mexico

Drug Policy Alliance

For months, Mexican drug trafficking organizations have battled it out with the Mexican government, the U.S. government, and each other, with violence escalating on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. Since 2007, the Mexican drug war has claimed the lives of more than 7,500 people, almost double the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since 2003. Now, the violence has reached such enormous levels that Congress is holding four hearings this week on what to do about the problem. More than 200 Americans have died in the conflict so far.

“Many parts of Mexico today are like Chicago during the days of Prohibition and Al Capone – times fifty,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The causes of the violence, corruption and civil rights abuses are the same today as they were back then, and people on both sides of the border are finally beginning to ask whether the solution might be the same as well.”

In November 2008, the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) down-graded Mexico’s status to “near failed state”. In February, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory warning Americans it is dangerous to travel to Mexico for vacation. "Recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades," the advisory reads. "Large firefights have taken place in many towns and cities across Mexico but most recently in northern Mexico, including Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area."

As members of Congress debate what to do, support is growing in both countries for major shifts in global drug policy. In El Paso, Texas, where several Mexican mayors live and commute to work out of fear they and their families will be killed if they live in Mexico, the city council passed a resolution in January calling on Congress to consider and debate drug legalization to reduce prohibition-related violence. In February, the Latin-American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, a high-level commission co-chaired by former presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, called for a “paradigm shift” in global drug policy, including decriminalizing marijuana, and “breaking the taboo” on open and robust debate about all drug policy options.

More recently, the Arizona Attorney General, citing evidence that Mexican drug trafficking organizations get 60% to 80% of their revenue from marijuana, suggested national policymakers debate legalizing marijuana.

More than 40% of Americans, and over 50% of Canadians, say it’s time to legalize marijuana, according to recent polls. (Support is close to or over 50% in some western U.S. states and among Americans 30 and under.)