Texas Must Kick its Addiction to Prisons, Discrimination and Racial Profiling

Press Release March 9, 2004
Media Contact

Elizabeth Mendez Berry at (212) 613 8036 or Rashid Shabazz at (646) 523-6943

President George W. Bush’s home state has been the site of some of the worst injustices in the U.S. government’s war on drugs. Texas incarcerates African Americans at 5 times the rate of Anglos despite national figures demonstrating equal use and abuse of drugs between whites and African Americans. Both Hispanic and African American communities face unwarranted discrimination through racial profiling despite the fact that the practice was outlawed by the Texas legislature in 2001. Drug treatment and other essential service programs have been cut in communities where high numbers of formerly incarcerated persons return from prison to face economic and social barriers that make successful reintegration difficult if not, impossible.

That’s why, from April 1st through April 3rd, Breaking the Chains, the only conference that addresses the impact of the war on drugs on communities of color, will take place on the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston, with attendees from across Texas and the country to discuss how to educate their neighbors, friends and loved ones about these problems and to develop strategies to address them. Breaking the Chains is a project of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization seeking to end the war on drugs.

Elected officials including Texas Congressional Representative Sheila Jackson Lee and State Senator Rodney Ellis will join this historic gathering of religious leaders, academics, drug treatment providers, criminal justice professionals, community advocates, law enforcement and other people who are directly impacted by the negative consequences of the war on drugs.

The conference will begin on April 1st with a public Town Hall meeting Thursday evening focusing on the cases in Tulia, Dallas and Hearne, as examples of drug war excesses that have negatively impacted communities of color in Texas. BTC will also host its first Youth Leadership Summit, on Saturday April 3, at the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center, an event that will include many members of the hip hop and youth activist communities.

WHAT: Breaking the Chains Conference: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs
WHEN: April 1, 2004 through April 3, 2004
WHERE: Texas Southern University
SPONSORED BY: Breaking the Chains a project of the Drug Policy Alliance

PRESENTERS INCLUDE: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee; State Senator Rodney Ellis; Deloyd Parker, Executive Director of S.H.A.P.E. Community Center; Gary Bledsoe, Pres. Texas NAACP; Texas LULAC; Texas ACLU; Texas Criminal Justice Reform Coalition; Antonio Gonzalez, President of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) and other distinguished participants

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

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