The news that Attorney General Eric Holder would be stepping down sent a shockwave through Washington. On the whole, was his term worth praising or condemning? We have to say that "both" is the only real answer to that question.
Despite marijuana's legalization in Colorado and Washington, forthcoming ballot measures in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., and rising support in the polls, marijuana's prohibition still remains a powerful force in much of the country.
Of all the pro-legalization arguments, this could perhaps be the strongest one. The laws don't work.
As we face the rugged terrain ahead, our marching orders must be the sobering words that speak presciently from the grave of the late Coretta Scott King: "Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation."
As we witness the drug and criminal justice policies of the "greatest democracy in the world" lag behind those of an ever expanding list of other countries around the world, more and more are coming down on the right side of history.
This move could result in the release of thousands of low-level federal inmates caught up in the drug war. For a president who, hitherto, had the most conservative pardon record in recent history (e.g. in Obama's first term, he pardoned 1 in 50 applicants, while Ronald Reagan pardoned 1 in 3), such a shift is noteworthy.
What changes have come about since our #EndMassIncarceration petition? Well, there's been about 20 developments and victories in the way of criminal justice reform (not including changes at the state/local level), at least 6 of which that are having or will have measurable impact.
The international drug control regime is broken. Past approaches premised on a punitive law enforcement paradigm have failed, emphatically so. They have resulted in more violence, larger prison populations, and the erosion of governance around the world. The health harms associated with drug use have gotten worse, not better. The Global Commission on Drug Policy instead advocates for an approach to drug policy that puts public health, community safety, human rights, and development at the center. I have listed the five pathways to ending the drug war recommended by the Global Commission on Drug Policy that I chair. (Other members of the commission, ranging from Kofi Annan to Paul Volcker to former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo are listed after the recommendations.)
At the core of all of this is an ignominious reality at odds with one of the nation's most (publicly) cherished ideals, and one of our Constitution's most sacred laws: the Fourteenth Amendment right to "equal protection of the laws."
There is no one above, and no one below. There are wrong actions, not wrong people. There are dangerous risks, not dangerous souls. From now on, there is no one above, and no one below me. From now on, I view each of you, each of us, as human.
Free-trade laws do not hold corporations accountable for negative local impacts, but people are suffering because of CAFTA-DR. The apparel industry, which has profited above all other sectors, has a moral duty to respond.
The Chinese government has launched a sweeping crackdown on drugs this year, including random drug testing in bars and aimed particularly at the entertainment industry. In the past couple of months, 11 celebrities have been detained by police.
Just look at the facts, and it becomes clear that America's egregious rates of incarceration of blacks and Latinos stem from the enforcement of unfair sentencing laws -- laws that are grounded in racist policy, and that are desperately in need of reform.
Aggressively punitive and extreme drug policies are steeped in racism. Inherent in the response to drug law enforcement is a biased approach and stark double standards in the perceived threat of drug use by marginalized people.
The Los Angeles Police Department pioneered a high school drug bust operation in the 1970s. Under review in 2004, there was found to be no evidence that the program reduced drugs on school grounds, but there was found to be an increase of arrests in special needs students.
Until we alter our drug strategy, we can expect more murder and mayhem south of our border -- and greater numbers of immigrants fleeing north for safety.