October 21, 2016
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NJ Alliance Aims To Chart New Course In Fight Against Drugs

NEWARK - On Saturday, March 19th, an unprecedented collection of community advocates, service providers, public safety personnel and public health professionals will come together at a day-long conference to chart a new course in drug policy for New Jersey. The New Directions New Jersey conference will examine the decades-old ramifications of President Nixon’s declaration of the “war on drugs” in urban communities like Newark.


Drug policy experts from across the country and around the globe will discuss topics including: reducing crime and incarceration, effectively addressing addiction, treating drug use as a health issue, communities of color and the war on drugs, and drug policy lessons and models from abroad.


When asked about the war on drugs on the campaign trail, President Barack Obama said, “I believe in shifting the paradigm, shifting the model, so that we focus more on a public health approach [to drugs].” Polls show the American people agree. President Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, told the Wall Street Journal last year that he doesn’t like the term “war on drugs” because “[w]e’re not at war with people in this country.” Yet for the tens of millions of Americans who have been arrested and incarcerated for a drug offense,U.S. drug policy is a war on them—and their families. What exactly is a public health approach to drugs? What might truly ending the war on drugs look like?  This conference will serve as a model for those looking for new directions and strategies for ending the war on drugs.


“We see the impact of the ‘drug war’ first hand, where so many people are incarcerated for being economically disadvantaged by the disappearance of work,” says Bethany BaptistChurch pastor, Reverend William Howard.  “Afterwards, they are virtually permanently barred from the legal workforce for the rest of their lives. We must take our stand against the destructive scourge of drug abuse and trafficking by developing new, sensible strategies that solve more problems than they create.”


The conference will be guided by four principles:


  • The war on drugs has failed and it is time for a new approach to drug policy.

  • Effective drug policy balances prevention, harm reduction, treatment and public safety.

  • Alcohol and other drug use is fundamentally a health issue and must be addressed as such.

  • Drug policies must be based on science, compassion, health and human rights.


Panel members and conference speakers include:


·        Rev. Dr. M. William Howard, Jr., pastor, Bethany Baptist Church

·        Ethan Nadelmann, executive director, Drug Policy Alliance

·        Paula T. Dow, New Jersey Attorney General

·        Garry F. McCarthy, police director, City of Newark

·        Michelle Alexander, Esq., associate professor, Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity; Author, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

·        Beny Primm, MD, executive director, Addiction, Research and Treatment Corporation, BrooklynNew York

·        Todd Clear, dean, School of Criminal JusticeRutgers University

·        Donald MacPherson, former drug policy coordinator, City of Vancouver

·        Alex Stevens, professor of Criminal Justice, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent, Chatham, UK

·        Stephanie Bush-Baskette, Esq., Author and Director of the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers University

·        Deborah Peterson Small, Founder and Executive Director, Break the Chains: Communities of Color & the War on Drugs





8:30 am – 9:30 am

Registration and Continental Breakfast


9:30 am –10:00 am


Conference Welcome

• Rev. Dr. M. William Howard, Jr., Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church

• Ethan NadelmannExecutive Director, Drug Policy Alliance


10:00 am – 11:00 am


Treating Drug Use as a Health Issue

Moderated by Fred D. Mitchell, Regional Development Director, UNCF


The assumption that drug users should e punished by the criminal justice system has guided US drug policies or the past four decades. Our panel of scientific experts and community advocates will explain why treating drug se within the criminal justice system

is a misguided approach – and why a health-centered approach will save lives, preserve families and communities, and save taxpayers’ dollars.


• Carl Hart, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, Columbia University; Director, Residential Studies and Methamphetamine Research Laboratories, New York State Psychiatric Institute

• David L. Nathan, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Robert Wood Johnson Medical

School Director of Continuing Medical Education, Princeton HealthCare System

• Daliah Heller, PhD, MPH, Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Alcohol & Drug Use Prevention, Care & Treatment, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

• Hiawatha Collins, Leader, VOCAL-NY Users Union


11:00 am – 11:15 am



11:15 am –12:30 pm


Reducing Crime and Incarceration

Moderated by Deacon Richard Roper


The US has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but we have almost 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population. Has this made our neighborhoods any safer? Panelists will explore innovative ways to reduce crime in communities, and identify techniques for engaging policymakers in rethinking the “tough-on-crime” approaches that have torn apart families and communities.


• Todd Clear, Dean, School of Criminal JusticeRutgers University

• Bruce Stout, Associate Professor of Criminology, The College of New Jersey

• Garry F. McCarthy, Police Director, City of Newark

• David Kennedy, Director, Center for Crime Prevention and Control, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

• Cornell William Brooks, Esq., Executive Director, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice


12:30 pm – 1:30 pm


Lunch with Speaker Michelle Alexander, Esq. Associate Professor, Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity; Author, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness


1:30 pm – 2:30 pm


Lessons and Models from Abroad

Moderated by Keith C. Harvest, Esq., Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Essex CountyNJ


The US war on drugs has been catastrophic on many fronts. In recent years, policymakers outside of the US have devised solutions that resulted in drastic reductions in drug-related violence and problematic drug use. Will the US be courageous enough to follow their lead?


• Donald MacPhersonformer Drug Policy Coordinator, City of Vancouver

• Alex StevensProfessor of Criminal Justice, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of KentChathamUK

• Nuno CapazSociologist, Instituto da Droga e da Toxicodepência, Portugal


2:30 pm – 3:30 pm


Communities of Color and the War on Drugs

Moderated by asha bandele, Director, Advocacy Grants Program, Drug Policy Alliance


Drug law enforcement and sentencing practices have had profound, disparate impacts on people and communities of color. Panelists will highlight how communities have been impacted and how they are fighting back.


• Stephanie Bush-Baskette, JD, PhD, Director, Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies, Rutgers University

• Deborah Peterson Small, Esq., Founder and Executive Director, Break the Chains: Communities of Color & the War on Drugs

• Beny PrimmMDExecutive Director, Addiction, Research and Treatment Corporation, BrooklynNew York


3:30 pm – 3:45 pm



3:45 pm – 4:45 pm


Effectively Addressing Addiction

Moderated by Vivian Sanks–King, Esq.


Drug addiction is a complex and multi-faceted issue. Acknowledging that there is no panacea for addressing the problem of addiction, panelists will discuss cutting edge approaches, barriers to effective treatment, and opportunities to identify and promote

best practices and effective models.


• David Kerr, Founder and President, Integrity House

• Robert G. Newman, MD, Director, Baron Edmond de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute, Beth Israel Medical Center, NYC

• Timothy Christie, PhD, Regional Director, Ethics Services, Horizon Health Network, Saint John Regional HospitalCanada

• Joyce Rivera, Founder and Executive Director, St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction, NYC


4:45 pm – 5:15 pm

Closing Remarks and Next Steps

• Rev. Dr. M. William Howard, Jr., Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church

STORY TAGS: Black News, African American News, Minority News, Civil Rights News, Discrimination, Racism, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality, Afro American News

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