Criminal defense bar calls for end to War on Drugs

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Board passes unanimous resolution

America has lost the war on drugs and should surrender to pleas for legalization and the release of those in jail for drug offenses, says the nation's largest association of defense attorneys.

A resolution passed unanimously by over 50 officers who lead the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) in early November said the government's crusade to punish drug crimes is racist, unjust and unwinnable and therefore should cease.

Citing the government's own studies, the group said the criminal justice system has unfairly targeted blacks and other minorities who account for a disproportionate number of those arrested and locked up for nonviolent drug offenses.

"The 'war on drugs' is elitist, racist, hypocritical, and stupid," said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Edward Mallett NACDL released the final version of the resolution to the public on November 13th, 2000. NACDL board member Fred Leatherman of Seattle, who drafted the resolution, was gratified by the unanimous vote. "As a nation, we've stood by and watched this 'war on drugs' lock up a whole generation of young African-Americans. All the evidence says it's a sham and a failure. And everybody else who makes money from it thinks we should escalate the war. We do not agree," he said.

"Both of our presidential candidates committed 'youthful indiscretions' in their day. Would they, or we, be better off if they had been sent to prison, like so many blacks and Latinos are these days?" asked Mallett, a Houston criminal defense lawyer.

The NACDL resolution cites numerous statistical examples of racial injustice in the war on drugs. "The overwhelming win of the mandatory treatment law in California, which came largely because of Arizona's success, shows that the public knows it's time to start looking for better solutions," said Leatherman.

NACDL is the preeminent organization in the United States advancing the mission of the nation's criminal defense lawyers to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or other misconduct. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's more than 10,000 direct members-and 80 state and local affiliate organizations with another 28,000 members-include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, active U.S. military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness within America's criminal justice system.

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
1025 Connecticut Ave. NW, Ste. 901, Washington DC 20036 /
(202) 872-8600 / FAX(202) 872-8690 /

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