Directors Message

By Nora Callahan, Executive Director, November Coalition


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 we love.

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.


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