If I told you that in America almost 1 million black Americans were forever forbidden from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago, but you would be wrong. According to the Sentencing Project, a staggering number of nonviolent individuals who have been released from prison, are not on probation or parole and who have committed no further crimes, are forever prohibited from voting.
Sign the petition HERE for drug policy reform and the decriminalization of a natural plant, Cannabis!
Many black Americans are prevented from ever voting because of the war on drugs.
“These sentences are disproportionately affecting minorities and low-income communities. A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union reports that blacks are four to five times more likely to be convicted for drug possession. Some dismiss this because they think blacks are committing more drug crimes, but in June, The New York Times reported that although black Americans were four times more likely to be arrested than whites for marijuana possession, both groups used the drug at similar rates.”
“Why are the arrest rates so lopsided? One widely cited study by The San Jose Mercury News reviewed 700,000 criminal cases that were matched by crime and criminal history of the defendant. The analysis revealed that similarly situated whites were far more successful than blacks and Hispanics in the plea-bargaining process.”
Today, the United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, and the racial disparity in arrest rates has been absolutely devastating to the black community. Professor Michelle Alexander has even called the war on drugs “the New Jim Crow.”
It’s not just black Americans. Regardless of the color of your skin, the war on drugs has ruined the lives of thousands of young people.
“I know a man about my age in Kentucky who grew marijuana plants in his apartment closet in college. Thirty years later, he still can’t vote, can’t own a gun, and when he looks for work, he must check the box that basically says: “I’m a convicted felon, and I guess I’ll always be one.” Getting a job is nearly impossible for him.”
“John Horner was a 46-year-old father of three when he sold some of his prescription painkillers to a friend. His friend turned out to be a police informant, and he was charged with dealing drugs. Horner pleaded guilty and was later sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison.”
“John will be 72 years old by the time he is released, and his three young children will have grown up without him. The informant, who had a long history of drug offenses, was more fortunate — he received a reduced sentence of just 18 months, and is now free.”
“So many judges oppose mandatory-minimum sentencing precisely because such an arbitrary law does not take into account that each case is different.”
“I want to be clear: I am not advocating for any type of get-out-of-jail-free passes for individuals who break the law. I am simply arguing that the federal government should get out-of-the-way, and allow local and state judges to do their jobs.”
“Mandatory-minimum sentences automatically impose a minimum number of years in prison for specific crimes — usually related to drugs. By design, mandatory-sentencing laws take discretion away from prosecutors and judges so as to impose harsh sentences, regardless of circumstances.”
“Since mandatory sentencing began in the 1970s in response to a growing drug-and-crime epidemic, America’s prison population has quadrupled, to 2.4 million.”
“Currently, America jails a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country, including China and Iran, at the staggering cost of $80 billion a year. Drug offenders in the United States spend more time under the criminal justice system’s formal control than drug offenders anywhere else in the world.“
“Most public officials — liberals, conservatives and libertarians — have decided that mandatory-minimum sentencing is unnecessary. At least 20 states, both red and blue, have reformed their mandatory-sentencing laws in some way, and Congress is considering a bipartisan bill that would do the same for federal crimes.”
“About 1.3 million people — more than half the total prison population — are behind bars for nonviolent crimes, and federal prisons are 40 percent over capacity. “It’s a waste of tax dollars and human lives,” said Anthony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance.“
It’s time for these unjust laws to end. We do need responsible reform of the antiquated drug laws. The Federal Government also needs to reclassify marijuana’s scheduled stats as a drug in the same ranks as Heroin, MDMA and LSD, Cannabis is the only all natural plant in the list. Cocaine, Methamphetamine and high-powered opiate pain medications are on a lower level of severity than Marijuana. It makes no sense, so it has to be tied to industry, government, lobbyists and the 1%…The ultra rich!
“On March 20, I introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 with the Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat. We have been joined by Sens. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat; Angus King, Maine independent; and Kristen Gillibrand, New York Democrat, in the Senate, and Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Virginia Democrat, joined by 11 others, introduced similar legislation in the House. The legislation is short and simple. It amends current law to provide “authority to impose a sentence below a statutory mandatory minimum” if certain requirements are met.”
Mandatory-minimum sentencing has done little to address the very real problem of drug abuse, while also doing great damage by destroying so many lives. Each case should be judged on its own merits, yet mandatory minimums prevent this from happening. The Justice Safety Valve Act will be an important step in improving justice in our nation’s courtrooms.
This war has cost so much in human lives, families and monetarily. The War on Drugs has failed. It is time for drug law reform. This legislature and law is NOT working in America…it is victimizing Americans!
1. Laney’s Bill, technically House Bill 2198. Click the red button below to find out more, sign it if you like, and/or share the petition with friends. Please, this is how change happens!
2.The “War on Drugs” has been a miserable failure and taken millions of American victims with it! America incarcerates MORE of its own citizens than any other country in the world.
Non-violent, Marijuana incarcerations, have ruined hundreds of thousands of lives in America, especially over the last 40 years…since Nixon enacted the Drug War! America is the home of the imprisoned currently and for the last several decades at a horrible cost to all of us, especially, the non-violent 18-year-old that went to prison for marijuana possession(small amount). While in prison, he was raped and killed. Is that justice or is that terror? That is America’s War on Drugs!
This just doesn’t add up, considering how harmful tobacco and alcohol are to Americans. These products have no acceptable use and are ‘man-made’. Marijuana, or Cannabis, is a natural medicine that grows in your garden…free of pesticides, if you are lucky enough to live in a progressive state that cares about the people’s opinion and not their own personal bias!
I can buy a 9mm gun in 30 minutes in my state but I can’t treat Crohn’s disease with a plant? This is fact! I am not exaggerating in the least. We need to stop the insanity and sign this petition, forcing our Government leaders to take a serious look at this petition.
Its time to end the hypocrisy of the War on Drugs, started by a crook, President Nixon. President Nixon would have been impeached if he didn’t resign a split minute before-hand! His “War on Drugs” has been a COMPLETE failure. War lost, decades ago.
As a father of a chronically ill child, a USMC veteran of Desert Storm and a registered nurse, I care about my fellow Americans. Give them safe access to a scientifically proven medicine that has been used safely for thousands of years!
Give those without a voice a choice. Give them the freedom of choice in treating their disease.
“We have to Stand United. Republican, Democrat, Independent or whatever party affiliation, it does not matter. Proudly, we are all Americans that HAVE to Voice for what is right in our country or the “status quo” will always be good enough for the career politicians”. ~E. Myers~
Original article at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/20/paul-the-devastating-effect-of-a-drug-war-weapon/?page=all
[Editor’s Note: Portions of the following article should have been attributed to “Rethinking mandatory sentencing,” an article written by Dan Stewart that appeared in The Week on Sept. 14, 2013.]