Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to Speak Before Hundreds at Gathering at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta for One Day Strategy Session on the Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Public Health

Press Release April 17, 2017
Media Contact

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<p>Tony Newman, 646-335-5384<br />
asha bandele, 646-541-9499</p>

Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), the leading voice challenging the current threat to rollback gains made in criminal justice and ending the drug war, will meet with hundreds of activists and scholars on Saturday, April 22 in Atlanta. The intensive one-day strategy session will examine the intersection of drug policy, mass incarceration and public health.

A generation ago, Representative Waters was among those who warned the nation about the failure of the drug war and the prison system and in the last decade, bi-partisan coalitions have formed to course correct.  Recent reports suggest that despite gains in health and other outcomes, there are some who would return the nation to an unsafe and dangerous place, especially for vulnerable communities.

Brought together by the Drug Policy Alliance, Amnesty International, Peachtree NORML, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, The Ordinary People’s Society, Georgia State University’s Department of African American Studies and the Morehouse School of Medicine, hundreds of the nation’s leading advocates will gather for this momentous collaboration to get more aligned with each other in a time when our values are under attack.

The day’s program will include not only Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and national leading criminal justice, drug policy and public health reformers, but VH-1 personality and best-selling author, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, and Black Lives Matter co-founder, Patrisse Cullors, among others.

“The drug war is coded language,” said DPA senior director, asha bandele.  “When the law no longer allowed the control and containment of people based on race, they inserted the word drug and then targeted communities of color. Fifty years later, we see the outcomes of that war.  Drug use remains the same, and Black people and people of color are disproportionately locked up. But no community regardless of race has been left unharmed which is why we are calling everyone together to strategize.”

Recent media reports have made it clear that while tremendous gains have been made toward reducing the harms of the drug war and mass incarceration, there are some vocal and prominent people who would seek to extend the overreach and horrific harms of the drug war and the criminal justice system, all while disrupting the most effective pathways to real and quality public health. Adopting a “stop and frisk” policy nationwide, the return of “law and order,” and the overuse of ICE has or will have a disproportionately negative impact on vulnerable communities.  Advocates are gathering to strategize on ways to secure them instead.

The powerful gathering will build momentum for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference taking place in Atlanta in October.

WHAT: “Not One Step Back” – A One Day Strategy Session on the Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Public Health in the Age of Trump

WHEN: Saturday, April 22, 9:30a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Highlighted Sessions:

10:00 – 11:00 – Drug Policy Reform is a Human Rights Issue with Deborah Small, JD

11:00 – 12:30—This is What the Drug War Looks Like: Survivors Speak

2:00 – 3:30 p.m. – Strength, Courage and Wisdom: Who We Must be in These Times: A conversation with Patrisse Cullors, Dr. Iva Carruthers and others

3:30 –5:00 p.m. – Dreaming a World: A Nation Beyond Prisons and Punishment with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

5:00 – 5:30 p.m. – Not One Step Back: A Keynote by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

WHERE: Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30310


HOW: This event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Members of the public who wish to attend must register here. 

Press can attend if they RSVP via email at [email protected]

Promo video 1:
Promo video 2:

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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