Drug Policy Alliance is an organization dedicated to drug policy reform, founded in 2000 after merging with Ethan Nadelmann’s, The Lindesmith Center (TLC) that was established in 1994. DPA’s legislative reform is “grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights”, challenging the conventional thinking around drug use and addiction. Rather than punishing drug users and attempting to increase harm reduction through the criminal justice system, DPA seeks solutions that prioritize safety and sovereignty over one’s mind and bodies.
DPA’s report “The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Race”, published in February 2016, uses data and statistics from federal reports and international investigations to show the discriminatory effects of the failed War on Drugs in America.
DPA highlights how drug possession is the major cause for arrests; therefore a critical issue of mass incarceration. A growing majority of America’s prison population remains behind bars for non-violent crimes. The report also displays the increase in arrests for possession, as in 2014, 80% of the drug arrests were only for possession rather than sale.
This report also analyzes statistics gathered on race in America’s criminal justice system, and how specific laws enable biased drug sentencing against minority groups. For example, “nearly 80% of people in federal prison and almost 60% of people in state prison for drug offenses are black or Latino.”
Further underlying the consequences of the Drug War, DPA’s report explains how mass incarceration is tearing apart families in the U.S. More specifically, high incarceration rates are hurting minority families, with 1/9 black children having an incarcerated parent, compared to 1/57 white children.
To conclude, DPA suggests potential policy reforms. They include: the decriminalization of drug possession, the elimination of policies that deny those with conviction or arrest records the right to vote, employment, housing, financial aid, etc., and repeal of harsh and discriminatory sentencing and police practices.