Tuesday, December 17, 2022

NORML Alert - Michigan Legislature Repeals Draconian Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences
Thursday, December 12, 2022

LANSING, Mich. A bipartisan majority of the Michigan Senate today passed
a historic package of three sentencing reform bills n HB 5394 (H-3), HB
5395 (H-2) and HB 6510 (H-1) n that eliminate most of the stateis
Draconian mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. The reform allows
judges to impose sentences based on a range of factors in each case,
rather than solely drug weight, and replaces lifetime probation for the
lowest-level offenders with a five-year probationary period. It also
permits earlier parole for some prisoners, at the discretion of the parole
board. Governor John Engler is expected to sign the bills.

Rep. Bill McConico (D-Detroit), sponsor of the bills said, "This major
step brings fairness back to the judicial system in Michigan. The
overwhelming bipartisan support for this legislation shows it is not a
partisan issue. We were able to unite Republicans, Democrats prosecutors,
judges and families in the common cause of sentencing justice. Now we can
reunite families, reallocate resources and allow judges to do their job."

William Van Regenmorter, Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, endorsed the legislation, saying, "We want to make sure the
sentence fits the crime while still maximizing public safety."

"We applaud Michigan's lawmakers for taking a principled stand on this
important issue," said Laura Sager, executive director of Families Against
Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a nonprofit organization that spearheaded the
drive for reform. "This vote restores confidence in the fairness of the
criminal justice system. Harsh mandatory minimums, originally intended to
target drug 'king pins' have instead warehoused many nonviolent, low-level
drug offenders at a very high cost to taxpayers."

"Today is the culmination of years of grassroots lobbying efforts by
thousands of our members affected by mandatory minimums that were among
the harshest in the nation. These families brought the human face of
sentencing injustices to lawmakers and convinced member of both parties
that change was urgently needed," said Sager. "The reforms could not have
been done without FAMM," said Rep. McConico.
posted by @ 11:49 AM CST [more..]

Thursday, December 12, 2022

Keep Doin' What We're Doin'? - No. We Must Reassess Our Drug Policy By Judge James P. Gray
James P. Gray is a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and criminal defense attorney in the United States Navy, and is now a trial judge In the Orange County Superior Court.

On April 8,1992, I did something unusual for a trial judge: I held a news conference in the plaza behind the Santa Ana Courthouse. At that time, I publicly set forth my conclusions that what we are doing through the Criminal Justice System with regard to our attempts to combat drug use and abuse in our society, and all of the crime and misery that accompany them, is not working.

Since that time, I have discussed this subject with many different groups of people, and when I do, I always ask for a show of hands as to how many people feel that our country Is In a better condition today with regard to this critical problem then we were five years ago. Almost never do any people raise their hands. Then I remind them that if this is true, and if we continue to pursue the same approach. no one can reasonably expect that we will be in a better condition next year than we are in today.

Fortunately, however, we have options. So now we must simply investigate our options and come up with a more workable and effective approach.

Before I begin my general discussion of this matter, however, I would like to address nine threshold points so that we can better understand each other

1. All of us are on the same side on this issue, we all are trying to reduce drug use and abuse, and all of the crime and misery that accompany them. We may simply disagree upon the best option to accomplish that goal.

2. We must have more responsibility and accountability in our society, not less; and the courts, the police and-the prison system have an important part to play in bringing these back to our society.

3. Without a doubt, heroin and cocaine are dangerous and sometimes addicting drugs. But so also are alcohol and tobacco dangerous and sometimes addicting drugs, and virtually everyone agrees that we would only compound their harm by making them illegal.

4. Just because people discuss various options about how best to combat drug use and abuse, or even because they believe that we should employ a different option, does not mean that these people condone drug use or abuse.
posted by @ 11:11 AM CST [more..]

Saturday, December 7, 2022

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posted @ 01:11 AM CST [link]

Tuesday, December 3, 2022

Open Letter of the Voluntary Committe of Lawyers
"The VCL is an association of lawyers and judges whose members share strong misgivings about the wisdom and consequences of America's perpetual drug war. While favoring no specific drug control policies, seeks to promote, within the legal profession and beyond it, informed and honest discussion about the objectives of the drug war and its costs to our cherished institutions of liberty and justice. This is the view of one of our founders, and former United States Attorney General, Elliot Richardson."

An Open Letter from Lawyers and Judges

As judges and lawyers, we share with all Americans a deep concern about the threat that drugs pose to our children and our country. For more than twenty years, our nation's response to this threat has been a "war on drugs," enforced primarily through a criminal justice process which we administer and observe on a daily basis.

Though we differ in political orientation and career experience, we unanimously observe that neither drugs nor drug abuse has been eliminated nor appreciably reduced, despite massive spending on interdiction and harsh punishments. Attempts at enforcement have clogged the courts, filled the prisons with non-predatory offenders, corrupted officials at home and abroad, bred disrespect for the law in important communities, imperiled the liberties of the people, burdened the taxpayers, impeded public health efforts to stem the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases, and brought the nation no closer to abstinence. As Congress and state legislatures enact more punitive and costly drug control measures, we conclude with alarm that the war on drugs now causes more harm than drug abuse itself.

Accordingly, we join with our colleagues in calling upon our profession, elected officials, the media and the public to initiate a truly open and honest evaluation of the efficacy and consequences of our drug control laws. Only a public debate guided by mutual respect can yield better drug laws in which fear, prejudice, and punitive prohibitions yield to common sense, science, public health and human rights. As America must never "surrender" to drugs, neither must she surrender to inertia or fear that shuts off debate, suppresses critical analysis, dismisses alternatives to current policies, and vilifies those who express dissenting views. We invite judges and colleagues to join us in opening up the dialogue about the drug war, its efficacy and consequences.

For more information, please contact:

[email protected]">[email protected]">Michael D. Cutler, National Coordinator, Boston, Massachusetts
[email protected]">[email protected]">Richard M. Evans, , Counsel, NorthamptonMassachusetts
[email protected]">[email protected]">Charles D.Adler, New York, President
Website - Voluntary Committe of Lawyers

permission to reprint granted by VCL
posted @ 03:23 PM CST [link]

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