Jubilee Justice Campaign 2000 Comes to a Close

Evaluation of a valiant effort by over 1300 November Coalition volunteers

Last May, when we launched the Jubilee Justice Campaign 2000, we proposed 5 objectives to meet with the petitions we would present to President Clinton.

We asked that non-violent drug war prisoners who had served 5 years of their sentence have their sentences commuted. Our 5 objectives were: 1) Enable us to show support for drug war prisoner release; 2) Ask a specific leader a specific request and so we asked President Clinton to release all nonviolent drug war prisoners who had served 5 years of their federal sentence; 3) Educate those who read our petition request about unjust drug laws; 4) Identify new supporters; 5) Target specific constituencies building a broader coalition for drug law reform.

Barring an eleventh hour White House decision, aside from our second objective, our other goals were met. Thanks to a broad network of organizations and coalitions, the media covered the support for broad drug war prisoner release in the last weeks of December and early January with fervor.

Some of the headlines on December 20th read: Chicago Tribune, Pardon Me Please - Before Turning Out the Lights, Mr. President and covered the appeal of Dorothy Gaines and the Coalition for Jubilee Clemency; San Francisco Chronicle ran 'Tis the Season to Free Nonviolent Drug Offenders and covered the stories of Amy Ralston, Dorothy Gaines, Kemba Smith and the Coalition for Jubilee Clemency; on the 22nd of December USA Today ran, Clinton Examines Clemency Cases, and this story covered the Coalition for Jubilee Clemency, the Jubilee Justice Campaign of the November Coaltion and the efforts of FAMM in presenting 11 cases for Clinton to consider for commutations. On December 23rd the New York Times and numerous other major newspaper covered the releases of Dorothy Gaines and Kemba Smith. The Houston Chronicle headlined an associated press article, Freed Women Underscore Disparities In Sentencing, and more stories about the terrible toll and rates of drug war incarceration have followed since.

Our membership expanded as did our identifiable volunteer base of support through this project. The Coalition for Jubilee Clemency which targeted the clergy for support, marshalled 675 religious leaders who signed on to a request for drug war prisoner release, and the November Coalition gathered over 34,000 signatures in support of early release for drug war prisoners and presented box fulls of signed petitions to President Clinton in 3 separate appeals.