Posted by: Mothers Against Teen Violence | August 5, 2010

There is absolutely nothing like a vacation to  relax, clear your head, “re-create” and regenerate the spirit. I had a wonderful vacation in Hawaii—a place of spectacular beauty and wonderful people—with 18 members of my family. I recommend it highly…

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 And because of my vacation, I missed the July DRUG POLICY DISCUSSION GROUP. But Iave it on good authority that our speaker, Jimmy Ochs—Program Director at the Dallas County Judicial Treatment Center located in Wilmer, Texas—gave an excellent presentation,  and that a “lively” discussion followed. Kudos to our speaker and Dr. Marvin Dulaney for making it happen! Mark your calendar for our next meeting Thursday, August 19. Details will follow.

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Two days after returning from Hawaii, I spoke at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, sharing the stage with Raul Caetano, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Dean, UT School of Public Health, Dallas Regional Campus. The program was hosted by John Z. Sadler, M.D., Daniel W. Foster School of Medical Ethics and Chief of the Division of Ethics and Health Policy in the Department of Clinical Sciences. I want to thank the students and faculty for a warm reception; welcome our first Project RETHINK Network members from UT Southwestern; and thank my good friend John Fullinwider for the invitation. 

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You probably know by now President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law yesterday, reducing the mandatory minimum sentence for a federal conviction of crack cocaine possession from 100 to 18 times that of people convicted of carrying the drug in powdered form .

Despite the fact that more than 66% of those who use crack cocaine are White, in 2006, 82% of those convicted and sentenced under federal crack cocaine laws were African American. When you add in Latinos, the percentage climbs above 96%. Astonishing.

 The NAACP worked very hard in support of the new law and views its passage as a huge success. We congratulate them on their work because we understand that the entrenched support for the drug war  assures that even a small advance will be highly contested and difficult to win. Still, it must be said that it is disappointing that the disparity was not removed entirely, as there is no justification for anything less than equity in this instance. Secondly, if policymakers believe that crack cocaine is somehow instantaneously addictive, then how can they justify locking up anyone in the throes of addiction (a medical problem)  instead of sending such a person to treatment, which is far less costly, more effective and more humane? And finally—since drug trafficking can be correctly described as a problem of supply and demand—where is the evidence that locking up nonviolent drug users has any sustainable impact on the supply or demand for drugs? These are critical questions that speak to the heart of what is not only wrong, but unconscionable about our drug policy.  

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Have you read Joy in the Morning? A friend from my church asked me to sign a copy of her book today. And like so many others, her first comment was, “I couldn’t put it down!” She continued, “Your book was such a blessing to me. Thank you so much for writing it.”

You can purchas my new book www.joystrickland.com or www.amazon.com

Be Blessed

Joy Strickland, CEO, Mothers Against Teen Violence

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