Unprecedented Momentum Builds Against America’sDrug War As More than 1,000 Prepare to Gather at Shadow Convention in Philadelphia, Tues., August 1,

Press Release July 19, 2000
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 510-208-7711 or Shayna Samuels at 212 547 6916

On Tuesday, August 1, busloads of people with family members incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses will arrive in Philadelphia for the largest-ever gathering of Americans against the drug war. This will be the third day of the first “Shadow Convention,” which aims to address key issues largely ignored by the major political parties during their National Conventions.

The drug policy program at the Shadow Convention will take place on Tuesday, August 1 at the Annenberg Center, University of Pennsylvania, 3680 Walnut Street @ 37th from 10AM-10PM.

Confirmed speakers include Governor Gary Johnson (R-NM), the first U.S. governor to call for marijuana legalization and other major drug policy reforms; Reverend Jesse Jackson, who will address the racially disproportionate impact of current drug policies; and Congressman Tom Campbell (R-CA), the first major party politician to run for statewide office on a platform that includes significant drug policy reform.

“Millions of Americans now have a family member behind bars for violating the drug laws,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, which is organizing the Shadow Convention proceedings on the drug war. “This gathering is about giving a voice to those family members and others who have been victimized by a war on drugs that is doing far more harm than good.”

Among the topics to be addressed on Tuesday, August 1 in Philadelphia are:

  • The impact of the war on drugs on American families – Families negatively affected by New York’s Rockefeller drug laws – the oldest and most notoriously failed experiment in mandatory minimum sentences for drug law violations — will be present at the convention. A choir of young people from Minnesota who have lost a parent or sibling to the war on drugs will perform. Family members of those incarcerated for drug-related offenses will be wearing t-shirts with photos of their loved ones.
  • The economic costs and consequences of current drug policies — Right now federal and local government spending tops $40 billion to fight the drug war, which is failing even by its own standards. Drugs are cheaper, more potent and more readily available than they were 20 years ago, when only a few billion dollars per year were spent on the drug war. By White House estimates, 57 percent of people in need of treatment do not receive it, despite numerous studies demonstrating that treatment is far more cost-effective than imprisonment at reducing drug abuse. In addition, our prohibitionist policies have empowered organized criminals, corrupted governments at all levels, eroded community order, stimulated violence, aided and abetted racial injustices, and distorted both economic markets and moral values.
  • The evisceration of American civil rights and liberties by the war on drugs – The drug war is being waged against our Bill of Rights. For example, the Fourth Amendment, which guards against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” is routinely violated by increasingly militarized police forces. Likewise, the Fifth Amendment states that “no person shall be
A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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