October 24, 2016
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NJ Charts New Course In Drug Policy

NEWARK, NJ - 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

STORY TAGS: New Directions New Jersey , Drug policy

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