7:52 AM, Apr 9, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
A list of rappers and stars, including Russell Simmons, LL Cool J, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Kim Kardashian, and many more, have written an open letter to President Obama to ask that he ease the nation's drug policy. They also ask that prison policy be changed, too.
"During your presidency you have made important steps and you now have the opportunity to leave a legacy by transforming our criminal justice system to an intervention and rehabilitation based model. Many of those impacted by the prison industrial complex are among your most loyal constituents," they write. "Your struggles as the child of a single mother allow you to identify with millions of children who long to be with their parents. We request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these ideas further and empower our coalition to help you achieve your goals of reducing crime, lowering drug use, preventing juvenile incarceration and lowering recidivism rates. We stand with you, ready to do what is just for America."
Here's the entire letter, followed by the entire list of signatories:
Dear President Obama,
Your hard work and leadership on issues affecting the unrepresented classes of people in our nation have served as an inspiration to many of us who hope for brighter futures for all Americans. In that spirit, we believe the time is right to further the work you have done around revising our national policies on the criminal justice system and continue moving from a suppression-based model to one that focuses on intervention and rehabilitation. We are proud of your accomplishments around these issues, specifically your leadership on gun control, your investments in "problem solving courts," your creation of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, your launching the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention and your prosecution of a record number of hate crimes in 2011 and 2012. We certainly hope that this type of leadership is appreciated by all members of Congress, regardless of political affiliation, and you are joined by members of all parties in your pursuit of a more perfected union.
Mr. President, it is evident that you have demonstrated a commitment to pursue alternatives to the enforcement-only "War on Drugs" approach and address the increased incarceration rates for non-violent crimes. Your administration has moved in the right direction by committing increased funds to drug prevention and treatment programs and supporting state and local re-entry grants. We encourage you to continue your efforts to revamp the policies of the last 30 years that have seen the prison population skyrocket.
The greatest victims of the prison industrial complex are our nation’s children. Hundreds of thousands of children have lost a parent to long prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses, leaving these children to fend for themselves. Many of these children end up in the criminal justice system, which comes as no surprise as studies have shown the link between incarceration and broken families, juvenile delinquency, violence and poverty.
Mr. President, we are a coalition of concerned advocates that is ready to support you in more innovative criminal justice reform and implementing more alternatives to incarceration. As you set in motion research and policy to combat this societal crisis, this coalition is poised to help you make the transition successful. In 2010, the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act was a tremendous step in the right direction, and we appreciate how hard you worked on getting that done. Some of the initial policies we recommend is, under the Fair Sentencing Act, extend to all inmates who were subject to 100-to-1 crack-to-powder disparity a chance to have their sentences reduced to those that are more consistent with the magnitude of the offense. We ask your support for the principles of the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013, which allows judges to set aside mandatory minimum sentences when they deem appropriate.
We ask that you form a panel to review requests for clemency that come to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Well-publicized errors and omissions by this office have caused untold misery to thousands of people. Additionally, we want to applaud your staunch commitment to re-entry programs that are necessary to ensure that those who leave the system are able to become productive members of society as well as reliable husbands, fathers, mothers and wives. We certainly would like to help you achieve an increase in the number of these transition programs. Finally, we strongly urge you to support the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education (Youth PROMISE) Act, a bill that brings much needed focus on violence and gang intervention and prevention work.
3:44 PM, Feb 22, 2013 • By EMANUELE OTTOLENGHI
For years, Iran has marketed itself as a frontline state in the war against the drug lords. Recently the New York Times even described the regime in Tehran as the “West’s stalwart ally in the War on Drugs.” The problem is that while the Iranian regime is fighting drug lords on its eastern borders, much of the drugs it seizes are being sold by the Revolutionary Guards to the same people they are asking for additional funding to fight the drug trade—the Europeans.
4:11 PM, Feb 19, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Vice President Joe Biden was asked today whether a "ban on guns" would be more effective than outlawing drugs. "Are you suggesting that we have no -- we just legalize all drugs?," the vice president asked.
2:50 PM, Feb 14, 2013 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
About two years ago, a senior Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official said that a certain Latin American country was becoming a veritable “United Nations” of organized criminal activity, attracting gangsters from such diverse and faraway places as Albania, China, Italy, and Ukraine. He was not talking about Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, or Brazil. No, Jay Bergman, the DEA’s Andean regional director, was describing Ecuador, a small nation of 15 million people that is tucked between two of the largest cocaine-producing countries on earth. “If I’m an Italian organized drug trafficker and I want to meet with my Colombian counterpart,” Bergman told Reuters, “I would probably prefer to meet in Ecuador than to meet in Colombia.”
10:57 AM, Jan 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The son of Congressman John Barrow, James Pentlarge Barrow, was arrested on drug and DUI charges on Saturday morning, the Athens Banner-Herald reports. James Barrow is 18 years old.
8:01 AM, Dec 12, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
When asked whether he favored legalizing marijuana, former president Jimmy Carter made clear that he did.
8:15 AM, Nov 29, 2012 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
When Mexican president Felipe Calderón leaves office on December 1, his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, will inherit a country with rampant corruption and high levels of drug-related violence. Of course, when Calderón entered the presidency six years ago, he himself inherited a country with rampant corruption and high levels of drug-related violence.
10:49 AM, Nov 20, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, has voted to rescind the honorary degree it conferred on embattled bicyclist Lance Armstrong, a university spokesman confirms.
9:33 AM, Oct 6, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Bill Maher, a major donor to Barack Obama's super PAC, blasted the president's debate performance on his HBO show last night:
7:25 AM, Jul 24, 2012 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Last week, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report and held hearings on the giant British-based HSBC bank. HSBC Holdings was ranked as the sixth-largest public company in the world by Forbes in 2011, with assets of $2.5 trillion.
The PRI is about to regain power. Should we be worried?8:05 AM, Jun 28, 2012 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Assuming the polls are correct, Mexico’s notorious Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will cruise to victory in Sunday’s presidential election and also win at least one chamber of the national legislature. Will this mean a return to the bad old days of authoritarian politics and corrupt deals with drug cartels, as many PRI critics fear? Or will it affirm the strength of Mexico’s young democracy and create a golden opportunity for economic reform?
Needless fretting today kills innovation tomorrow. 11:47 AM, Jan 29, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
At Forbes, David Shaywitz has a column on why excess medical regulation is harmful, and it's one of the best things I've read on the topic:
4:18 PM, Oct 12, 2011 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
The revelation that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and its Quds Force had plotted to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States – by blowing him up as he dined at a Washington restaurant – is a stark reminder of the nature of the Tehran regime and its ambitions. But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the story is that Iran’s thugs are developing a strategic partnership with Mexico’s most violent thugs: Los Zetas may only be the second-largest drug cartel in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s rankings, but they’re probably the most lethal.
12:14 PM, Sep 23, 2011 • By AVI JORISCH and JOHN CASSARA
As the Obama administration reviews its Afghanistan and Pakistan policy, looking for creative means to challenge extremist funding, the drug trade is increasingly coming into focus.