Shadow Convention Hosts Drug Policy Forum 

  Shadow Convention Hosts Drug Policy Forum 

Posted by FoM on August 01, 2000 at 20:02:06 PT
We must have a new bottom line on drugs 
Source: U.S. Newswire  

More than 1,000 people crowded into the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Center today for the most important drug policy forum ever held at a national political convention. The diverse, multi-generational group of attendees heard from a mixture of high-profile public figures and people whose lives have been adversely affected by America's failed war on drugs. 
Reverend Jesse Jackson slammed the "jail industrial complex," calling for an end to the mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession that are swelling our prisons to the bursting point, leading to more pressure for expensive prison construction. He demanded a new common sense approach to dealing with the drug problem, citing evidence that drug treatment is on balance a far more cost-effective means of fighting drug use than the "cowboy-like drug war." Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico declared: "We must have a new bottom line on drugs," one that focuses on reducing the spread of AIDS, the number of heroin overdoses, and the staggering rise in the nation's prison population. Half a million people are now incarcerated in America on drug charges, ten times as many as in 1980, more than the total number of people incarcerated in Western Europe for all criminal offenses. Hundreds of people whose family members are incarcerated on non-violent drug charges were also in attendance. From their ranks came a series of emotional ceremonies remembering their loved ones jailed on mandatory minimum sentences and lost to wrongheaded public health policies. Included in these witnessings was the performance of a busload of youngsters who came from Minnesota and Michigan to perform songs and poems in remembrance of imprisoned parents and the testimony of people like Michelle Giordano, who lost her father to drug-related AIDS because her government opposed the needle-exchange programs that public health professionals say are essential to save lives. Court TV broadcaster Catherine Crier, who moderated one of the panels, stepped out of journalistic mode to also decry mandatory minimum sentences, saying "I cannot be dispassionate" about the drug war. Prior to becoming an anchor at CNN, Crier was a prosecutor and the youngest judge in the history of Texas. "This is the biggest day in the young history of the drug policy reform movement," declared Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation and a convener of the Shadow Conventions. "It's really the beginning of a new anti-war movement," he said. "It is a movement to end the war on drugs, a movement that may prevent a wider war in another country, a movement that calls for drug policies based upon common sense, science, public health, and human rights." To: National Desk, Political Reporter Contact: Beach von Oesen, 202-365-0392or Megan Colligan, 917-626-6502both for Shadow Conventions Posted: August 1, 2000U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770Copyright 2000, U.S. Newswire Related Articles & Web Sites:The Shadow Conventions Conventions Cause Campaign Shadow Convention 2000 News Board Articles On The Shadow Conventions: CannabisNews Articles On The Shadow Conventions: 

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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on August 02, 2000 at 05:44:29 PT:
Stopping the Drug War
I agree that this is a watershed event in the anti-drug war movement. Now, who is listening? All this positive energy will be for naught if these voices of reason are not heard. Everyone who cares about this issue needs to become an activist and let friends, neighbors and brain-dead politicians know how your feel, that you will work toward change, and vote accordingly. 
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