It Takes a Village to Raise a Child / It takes a Community to Restore Lives & Liberties that have been Lost to the Failed War on Drugs
There was a time in our history when parents depended on their neighborhood policeman, as well as clergy and teachers, to help in guiding their children to good decision-making. For the last several decades, many mothers whose children have experimented with drugs, or who have problems with addiction, have begun to distrust cops and the entire criminal justice system... with good reason.
Addiction, one of our greatest public health problems, is a chronic relapsing disease. One in four families is dealing directly with addictive illness. Unfortunately, due to stigma and discrimination, it has been altogether too easy for our society to arrest and banish these individuals behind bars, rather than to manage the disease by health care professionals using science-based, health-oriented strategies.
One of us is a mom who has painfully watched as her children have struggled with addiction. One of us is a retired police officer who has seen up close how our drug laws not only do nothing to solve addiction problems but in many cases make them worse.
Gretchen's two sons have addictive illness. Her older son was arrested for marijuana possession in 1990, and spent over a decade of his life cycling through the criminal justice system for non-violent drug offenses and relapse. This was a tragic waste of human potential, a painful saga for the family and a tremendous misuse of taxpayer dollars. But this family's story is not unique. Countless families now must deal with both the devastation of the disease and the harmful effects of punitive incarceration. These numbers are disproportionately high in communities of color or poverty. This is a human rights issue. Together we can and must end this injustice.
Moms United to End the War on Drugs is a national campaign of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) in partnership with a growing number of organizations and individuals in a massive collaborative effort to stop the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths that are a result of current punitive and discriminatory drug policies. Knowing that mothers were instrumental in ending alcohol prohibition in the US in the 1930's, mothers are again leading the charge to end the 40-year failed war on drugs and the devastation that has been caused by it. They are advocating for therapeutic drug policies that reduce the harms of drugs and current drug laws.
Moms are major stakeholders in this war that has been waged against our own families, so we must voice the concerns for the futures of our children. Cops are also stakeholders, as they are charged with being accountable for public safety and putting themselves in the line of fire to enforce current drug policies. It is the overarching policy of prohibition, rather than the individual cops, that is to blame.
Many law enforcement professionals are now speaking out for repeal of prohibition, and advocating for replacing it with a tight system of legalized regulation, which will cripple the violent cartels and street dealers who control the illegal drug market. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an international organization of criminal justice professionals who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of our current drug policies. Their mission is to reduce the multitude of unintended harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs, and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime and addiction by ending drug prohibition.
Neill Franklin's 34-year law enforcement career has given him up-close and personal insight to the deadly impact of prohibition. From friends being killed in the line of duty to the recruitment of children into the deadly game of drug dealing, he knows the trauma inflicted upon families and the pain experienced by mothers when their children are forever lost to addiction, drug gangs, prison and death. Neill has always had a great respect for the moral authority of mothers and he recalls how his mom always seemed to know when something was wrong. Moms generally know when their children are in grave danger and many refer to this as a mother's intuition. Because of a compelling desire to protect their children, it was mothers who played one of the most significant roles in bringing alcohol prohibition to its knees and ultimately an end. Neill believes that it must be and will be moms who once again come to rescue their children from the deadly grip of prohibition, and the cops of LEAP are eagerly ready to support them in this quest.
We are proud to announce the partnership of moms & cops and our commitment in working to change current drug policies from arrest and mass incarceration to therapeutic and restorative policies that will reduce the damage to our communities while improving public safety.
Gretchen Burns Bergman is Executive Director & Co-Founder of A New PATH & Lead Organizer of Moms United to End the War on Drugs; Neill Franklin is Executive Director of LEAP - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition