DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 177 July 11, 2000 

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 177 July 11, 2000 
Posted by FoM on July 12, 2000 at 07:11:02 PT
When Leaders Do What Is Right We Should Thank Them
Source: MapInc.
President Clinton has commuted the prison sentences of four women; Louise House, Shawndra Mills, Amy Pofahl and Serena Nunn; who were convicted of drug crimes but received much harsher sentences than men involved in the cases. This presents a rare opportunity to praise for doing the right thing. Below is a sample letter to President Clinton. Please consider sending your own letter. 
Robert Field of Common Sense for Drug Policy wrote, in response to the sample letter: I am delighted to read Tom's letter (below) of praise to President Clinton for more than the obvious reason. As I was discussing with a board member yesterday, now that our movement has matured and is becoming a major political force, it is very important that we be able to change hats from guerrilla warriors to establishment players. Oh, we will still need to be outspoken on our condemnation of abuses. But the only way we will ever accomplish much is to be able to form coalitions, flex political muscle, educate, reason with those in power who are receptive to incremental change, and help guide and modify their proposals and programs so that they are more consistent with what we desire to accomplish. Some of us are attracted to movements because it is our disposition to be rebels. There is an important place for such people and without what my rabbi calls "prophets" the world would be without vital critics. Others can both see the wrongs and appreciate the progress is made incrementally and by consensus, through give and take. They also recognize that politics indeed make for strange bedfellows (the recent forfeiture reforms comes to mind) and they are less interested in finding reform soul mates than in achieving alliances towards bringing about specific reforms - medical marijuana, decrim of marijuana, lessening or mandatory minimums, legalization of syringe exchanges, expansion of methadone availability, treatment in place of incarceration or examples. I hope Tom's letter is symbolic of a movement that is achieving prominence and is confident and pragmatic enough not limit its potential by taking "all or nothing" stands. Robert Field Although Letters to the Editor are also appropriate, we are asking you to send a letter to the White House to encourage more of the same - release drug war prisoners serving these unbelievable mandatory minimum sentences. Organizations which have taken the lead on this issue include: Families Against Mandatory Minimums: The November Coalition: Human Rights and the Drug War: Jubilee Justice 2000: Other articles about this release: US: 4 Women Granted Clemency By Clinton URL: US MN: Clinton Commutes Federal Drug Sentence Of Minneapolis Woman URL: US: Women Freed By Clinton From 'Harsh' Sentences: URL: WRITE A LETTER TODAY It's not what others do it's what YOU do  PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID (Letter, Phone, fax etc.) Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlet if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness. CONTACT INFO Email: president Email via the White House webform: Mail: President William Clinton1600 Pennsylvania AveWashington DC 20500 EXTRA CREDIT Let your Senators and Representative know what you think about mandatory minimums: Contact your Senators: Contact your Representative: Or bulk email them all: Plus a letter to the editor of your local newspapers is always appropriate. Find the email addresses here:  ARTICLE Pubdate: Sun, 09 Jul 2000 Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company Contact: letters Address: 229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036 Fax: (212) 556-3622 Website: Forum: CLINTON COMMUTES 4 WOMENS SENTENCES WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Clinton has commuted the prison sentences of four women who were convicted of drug crimes but received much harsher sentences than men involved in the cases, a White House spokesman said Sunday. "The president felt they had served a disproportionate amount of time,'' said spokesman Jake Siewert. "They received much more severe sentences than their husbands and boyfriends.'' The women freed under Friday's order were Louise House, Shawndra Mills, Amy Pofahl and Serena Nunn. One man, Alain Orozco, also was ordered freed after serving time on a drug conviction. ``I thought they were joking with me at first,'' Nunn told ABC News, which first reported on the commutations. ``After I realized it was actually happening, I began to tremble and one of the staff members asked me if I wanted to take a seat. Right after that, the tears just started flowing.'' Authorities said Nunn was convicted after being drawn into a Minneapolis drug ring by her boyfriend, but received a stiff 14-year sentence after refusing to inform on him. She served 10 years before her release. The federal judge who sentenced her lobbied the White House for her early release. "I frankly have never written a letter to the president before asking that one of my sentences by commuted,'' U.S. District Judge David Doty told ABC News. "Ms. Nunn was obviously guilty of a crime, but a crime that did not deserve the penalty the court was required to impose under the sentencing guidelines.'' He referred to guidelines imposed by Congress in the 1980s, requiring mandatory sentences for a number of drug violations. The guidelines have be criticized by a number of federal judges who complain they strip them of discretion. Pofahl was convicted along with her husband, a Stanford University Law School graduate and wealthy Dallas businessman, in connection with the drug Ecstasy. While he received three years probation, she was sentenced to 24 years without parole. My knees buckled,'' Pofahl told ABC News. ``I was overwhelmed. I just felt incredible that I was free to do things without someone looking over my shoulder.'' The Pofahl case was profiled in Glamour magazine last year and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis wrote about the Nunn case in late 1997. Details of the House and Mills cases were not available from the White House. SAMPLE LETTER President William Clinton1600 Pennsylvania AveWashington DC 20500 Dear President Clinton: After nearly eight years of intense frustration with your administration for its abysmal lack of intelligence and leadership in the field of drug policy, it's a genuine pleasure to be able to congratulate you for granting clemency to five federal prisoners who were serving obscenely long drug sentences. In a perfect world, there would be no criminal drug markets; people with drug problems would have stumbled into them the same way smokers and alcoholics do now. Those who chose to could also get over them the same way; through their own initiative and with the help of medical professionals of their own choosing - certainly not through the intervention of their local narc or sheriff . Who ever said we live in a perfect world? But -- no matter what its motivation -- the same small step which freed five people also calls attention to the gross injustice of our drug laws, and may thus be but the first on a long journey. For that I also thank you. Sincerely, Tom O'Connell, MD IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone number Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the President does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his work. ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts 3 Tips for Letter Writers: Letter Writers Style Guide:  TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE: TO UNSUBSCRIBE SEE: Prepared by Richard Lake Sr. Editor, DrugNews Please help us help reform. Send drug-related news to: editor Related Article:4 Women Granted Clemency By Clinton MapInc. Archives:
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