As someone who received executive clemency from the governor of New York in 1997, I know personally the power of such an extraordinary act of mercy to people who have already served enormous amounts of time imprisoned under unjust drug laws.
There is a crisis that demands our urgent attention. For the last four decades, this country has been obsessed with expanding the number of people we throw behind bars and the length of time we hold them there.
For those of us who consider criminal justice reform to be one of the leading civil rights issues of our time, these are hopeful signs that we might be entering a new era. We are no longer turning a blind eye to the damage being done to our communities.
Today the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed bipartisan sentencing reform legislation that reduces the federal prison population, decreases racial disparities, saves taxpayer money, and reunites nonviolent drug law offenders with their families sooner.
People's fear of angering prosecutors by going to trial is real. Defendants who choose to exercise their constitutional rights to go to trial routinely face sentences three times greater than the original plea deals.
With a very heavy heart, as a mother and advocate for drug policy reform, I wish other mothers and fathers who are victims of the drug war a "happy" holidays -- but can one truly have a "happy" holidays when there's an empty chair at the family table?
Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder offered the Obama administration's most forceful critique to date of U.S. mass incarceration policies, at a meeting of the hemisphere's security ministers in Medellín, Colombia.
The Illinois House has adjourned without voting on pending legislation that would increase mandatory-minimum prison sentences for illegal gun possession. This is a victory for safe, smart, cost-effective criminal justice law and policy.
Which state will be next to legalize marijuana? What do the Obama administration's recent announcements about marijuana and mandatory minimums really mean? People will ponder these questions and many more at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference.
Standing on the tears, hearts, and hopes of our families, we want reform with justice, not a bargain with politicians that promises provisional status in exchange for a police state that exploits the detention and destruction of our families.