How did I shift from being “pro-drug war” to realizing that it was totally wrong? I watched people who were addicts being arrested, taken into custody for mere possession of an “illegal” drug, when in reality, they were being put into a cage for possessing something they may or may not be addicted to and were doing no one any harm, except perhaps their own self. I struggled with the idea that I was part of an organization that was punishing people, often times severely, for being addicted to something. Not only would we put them in a cage, we would oftentimes financially ruin them. Their cars were towed, they needed to find bond money to post if possible. More times than not, they would lose their jobs for not being able to show up at work, they had to spend thousands and thousands of dollars for legal representation, families were split up, homes were lost. It slowly began to weigh on my mind.
By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp The program CNDP helped to initiate recently in Rhode Island — “Ending the Drug War, Healing Our Communities: Cops, Docs, and Clergy Speaking with One Voice” — is becoming increasingly visible. On Saturday, February 13, I went to Austin, Texas to join a district judge and an addiction psychiatrist on a panel before Republican Liberty Caucus State Convention, as well as at a gathering of Texans for Accountable Government. Common themes were that the War on Drugs has failed and is more harmful to individual lives than the marijuana use it seeks to prohibit. Here are excerpts.
On Saturday, December 5, 2015, CNDP was privileged to participate in the symposium “Ending the Drug War, Healing Our Communities: Cops, Docs, and Clergy Speaking with One Voice” in Providence, Rhode Island. Police officers, health care professionals, and clergy all spoke from distinct vantage points about the need to strengthen communities. You can read some of their insights below. We are grateful to Rev. Santiago Rodriguez and Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Providence for hosting us.
By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp There is a quiet but growing revolution in how we respond to drug addiction in this country.And it is starting in some places – would you believe it – with elected law enforcement officials and the police. “Diversion” is the technical word. The idea is to keep people out of the criminal justice system whenever possible. It makes no sense to recycle low-level, non-violent drug users off the streets, into jail, and back to the streets again, at huge public cost. This is foolish. When the user has serious mental health issues, it is downright immoral.