By Nora Callahan, Executive Director, November
The November Coalition's office
is nestled in a long valley surrounded by the mountains that
skirt the Northern Rocky and North Cascade mountains."It's
Christmas in prison and the food is real good, we've got turkey
and fixins carved out of wood." The John Prine lyrics are
sung around the office often these days, Chuck being our steady
and true, resident crooner and former prisoner. The weather turned
hard toward winter, but the wood is in, and now the holidays
are upon us - the hardest time of year to be separated from those
One comfort this season is knowing our work is being carried
out nationwide. We are receiving batches of Jubilee Justice petitions
from every state in the union, the Netherlands, Colombia, Venezuela
and Puerto Rico. Over1,200 volunteers have collected signatures
for the Jubilee Justice Campaign and by mid November, over 30,000
people have signed our request to President Clinton calling for
the release of nonviolent drug war prisoners who have served
five years of their sentence. Petitions still arrive with each
mail delivery, there is congressional support for early release
and we know that sentencing reforms will be introduced early
in the next Congress.
There are new vigil sign-ups and increasing numbers of volunteers
active in their communities. In this issue we have highlighted
several regional leaders and their activities. These people you
will meet and read about are only a small representation of many.
To all of our volunteers thank you and may you have a special
holiday season. To the prisoners, this is our gift to you this
season-a small representation of growing numbers of committed
people working to restore justice and compassion, working to
bring you home.
As we go to press, we still do not know who the President is
going to be. There are Senate and Congressional races too close
to call. Regardless of who will end up with the upper hand in
Washington D.C., our mission remains the same: To tell our stories
of drug war imprisonment and injustice to the world, countering
decades of lies and distortions of government propaganda, and
convincing our leaders and fellow citizens that we must have
drug policy reforms.
Legislators on every level of government are paying attention
to the fact that the majority of drug policy reform initiatives
that get on a state ballot pass. We've had four straight
years of unprecedented victories in drug policy reform. That
is too big to be ignored by anybody.
When you sit down to write your holiday correspondence, send
President Bill Clinton a short, handwritten note asking him to
do the right thing and release all nonviolent drug war prisoners
who have served five years. Send an extra card this year. The
president's address is: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW., Washington, DC 20500.
We will be turning around and going to press again real soon,
so you'll be hearing from us again just after the year 2001 rolls
around. Keep safe and take comfort in knowing that the prisoners
of the drug war are not forgotten - you are in more thoughts
and prayers than ever before.