This Monday, May 5th "Lockdown USA," makes its debut on the Independent Film Channel (IFC). The film chronicles hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons's at times Quixotic quest to repeal New York's infamous Rockefeller Drug Laws, which can condemn first-time, nonviolent drug law violators to prison for 15-years-to-life. The film also stars Randy Credico and the Mothers of the New York Disappeared, a group Credico and I co-founded in 1998.
Lockdown USA profiles Wanda Best and her five children after her husband, Darryl, was handed 15-years-to-life merely for signing for a neighbor's FedEx package, which, to his surprise, contained drugs. Made aware of this family's emotional turmoil, Simmons organizes a massive public rally, enlisting the support of major hip hop and pop artists, such as P. Diddy, Mariah Carey and 50 Cent and others.
New York is marking the grim 35th anniversary of the Rockefeller Drug Laws on May 8th, 2008. Passed in 1973, the laws have tied judges' hands and forced long mandatory minimum sentences on thousands of people, often for nonviolent drug possession offenses. One hopeful sign is a series of historic legislative public hearings to be held in NYC on the very same anniversary day. There will also be a huge rally with activists, politicians and speakers calling for real reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
Finally, you can listen to a great song, "Drop The Rock" written and performed by Jonny Diina and Norman Chapters especially for the 35th anniversary of the laws.