War on Drugs

June 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's declaration of a "war on drugs" — a war which has cost $1 trillion but produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs. The war on drugs has been a war on communities of color. The racial disparities are staggering: despite the fact that whites engage in drug offenses at a higher rate than African-Americans, African-Americans are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate that is 10 times greater than that of whites. The ACLU is advocating for a more responsible drug policy in America. It’s time to end the unjust and unsuccessful war on drugs.

Gil Kerlikowske: Please Put Our Money Where Your Mouth Is

Gil Kerlikowske: Please Put Our Money Where Your Mouth Is

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project & Emma Andersson, Criminal Law Reform Project at 4:02pm
U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske has his work cut out for him.  A revealing recent interview suggests he favors a more treatment-based approach to drug policy than his predecessors, but he has no illusions about the daunting task of de-stigmatizing addiction and aligning America’s drug policies with the extensive evidence that a public health approach will serve our country far better than the failed War on Drugs. It’s great that the national discussion about drug use and addiction is changing course, even among high-powered folks like Kerlikowske, but our laws and practices have many miles to go to catch up with the trends in conversation. Fifty percent of our federal prisoners – and almost 20 percent of state prisoners – are incarcerated for drug offenses. And this isn’t just cracking down on “hard” drugs - Marijuana arrests accounted for more than half of all drug arrests in 2010. All of this has a disproportionate and devastating impact on Black Americans, who are three times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana offense even though whites use marijuana at a higher rate. So the question is: can the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) follow through on Kerlikowske’s newfound enlightenment?
Have State Legislators Staved Off DEA License Scanning On Utah Interstate?

Have State Legislators Staved Off DEA License Scanning On Utah Interstate?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 6:07pm

(Update below)

The DEA has withdrawn its request to Utah for permission to install license plate scanners on the Interstate there—but it’s not clear if the agency is abandoning the installation or if it just plans to go ahead without…

Free Future Friday links roundup

Free Future Friday links roundup

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:20am

A few links that have caught our eye this past week:

The Citynewswatch blog in Charlotte, NC has a nice post on that city’s new license plate reader program, among other surveillance systems (pity any city that hosts a major national…

Treating Addiction as a Disease, not a Crime

Treating Addiction as a Disease, not a Crime

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 4:05pm
Like many who suffer from addiction, Cameron Douglas’ path to recovery has not been without setbacks. Currently incarcerated in federal prison on a five-year sentence for drug distribution and heroin possession, the 33-year-old son of actor Michael…
Data Mining License Plate Records

Data Mining License Plate Records

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:09am

On Friday I posted about an ongoing effort by the DEA to put automatic license plate reading (ALPR) devices on public interstates, where they will sweep up records of Americans’ travel and store it for two years. The agency is now pushing to…

DEA Recording Americans’ Movements on Highways, Creating Central Repository of Plate Data

DEA Recording Americans’ Movements on Highways, Creating Central Repository of Plate Data

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:58pm

The DEA wants to capture the license plates of all vehicles traveling along Interstate 15 in Utah, and store that data for two years at their facility in Northern Virginia. And, as a DEA official told Utah legislators at a hearing this week (attended…

This Week in Civil Liberties (5/18/12)

This Week in Civil Liberties (5/18/12)

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 3:22pm

Which law could be used to restrict the right to protest at next week’s NATO summit?

Which government watch list can you get on but are entirely at the government’s mercy if you want to get off?

A lawmaker from which state…

Without a Card to Play, Texas Grandma Sentenced to Life Without Parole for First-Time Drug Offense

Without a Card to Play, Texas Grandma Sentenced to Life Without Parole for First-Time Drug Offense

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 10:04am

Texans can sleep more soundly at night knowing that Elisa Castillo, a grandmother and nonviolent first-time drug offender, is serving a life without parole sentence in Fort Worth. Yes, you read that right — the latest casualty of our War on…

"Tough on Crime" No Longer the American Mantra?

"Tough on Crime" No Longer the American Mantra?

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 4:35pm

Politicians over the last quarter-century have held strong to the conventional wisdom that being "tough on crime" will win elections and appease the public's appetite for safety. And for the most part, it seems Americans did feel this…

Hundreds of Economists: Marijuana Prohibition Costs Billions, Legalization Would Earn Billions

Hundreds of Economists: Marijuana Prohibition Costs Billions, Legalization Would Earn Billions

By Ezekiel Edwards, Director, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project & Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 4:29pm

Over 300 economists, including three Nobel Laureates, recently signed a petition that encourages the president, Congress, governors and state legislatures to carefully consider marijuana legalization in America. The petition draws attention to an…

Statistics image