Making The Walls Transparent:

Standing Vigil with the November Coalition

By Kay Lee, Director, Journey For Justice

When I was in the fourth grade, I asked my teacher why we had to study history. "So that," she lectured, "we don't make the same mistakes again." I've researched long enough to know that prohibition is a historically failed policy, a destructive policy American lawmakers should never use again.

I also learned that the drug war is destroying far more people than drugs ever could. And I know marijuana is a gentle, innocent plant for which no one should ever go to jail for growing or using it.

I've now learned freedoms are being lost and rights are being trampled in the insane pursuit of an unattainable Utopia (at least here on Earth). As of February l5th, two million peoples' lives are in limbo.

Two million citizens are locked away in steel and concrete where there is little pretense at rehabilitation anymore. Over six million Americans are managed by the justice system in prison, jail, on parole or probation. Over half of them have been arrested for nonviolent crimes. Most of them are living with conditions that no civilized society should tolerate.

Any policy in such violent conflict with compassion and common sense as prohibition is an inhuman directive. Bad laws hurt good people. The land of the free has prosecuted over 50 million drug law offenders in the last 35 years. Nearly three million children are currently orphans of the drug war. That's how we ought judge bad policy and bad laws. And if the law is wrong, it is the duty of the citizens of the United States to call attention to the pain. It then becomes the duty of the lawmakers to institute reform.

Once the harm is known, reform becomes everyone's obligation. Those who know the truth must speak it and those who don't must learn it.

We are locking up too many innocents, too many peaceful people, and it has gone on far too long when our 'free' country boasts the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world, and the prison industries hit Wall Street.

Instituting alternatives to the drug war is imperative. This is a political issue, and these people are political prisoners. We will plead, ask, and demand the return of our loved ones until the prisons are only an echo of the pain our ignorance has caused. We will vigilize vigil until families are reunited and prison construction comes to a standstill.

If you are one of the many who understands that these policies are destroying our nation, please try to join us for the November Coalition's Vigils for Drug War Prisoners in cities around the nation. Details on our vigils are on pages 2-3.

"There is more beauty in truth, even if it is a dreadful beauty. The storytellers at the city gate twist life so that it looks sweet to the lazy and the stupid and the weak, and this only strengthens their infirmities and teaches nothing, cures nothing, nor does it let the heart soar." - John Steinbeck in East of Eden