What do P-Diddy, Cameron Diaz, Nicki Minaj, Ron Howard and Mark Wahlberg all have in common? Aside from being ridiculously famous and wealthy, they all support the reformation of drug laws in this country.
Wikipedia commons. Rusell Simmons.
More than 175 actors, artists, athletes and elected officials signed on to an open letter to President Obama today, asking him to change our drug policy laws from punitive, harsh jail times to one that favors evidence- based prevention and rehabilitation.
"Mr. President, it is evident that you have demonstrated a commitment to pursue alternatives to the enforcement-only "War on Drugs" approach and address the increased incarceration rates for non-violent crimes," the letter reads. "Your administration has moved in the right direction by committing increased funds to drug prevention and treatment programs and supporting state and local re-entry grants. We encourage you to continue your efforts to revamp the policies of the last 30 years that have seen the prison population skyrocket."
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the U.S. leads the world in imprisoning it's citizens. There are more than 2.3 million people in prison in the U.S., with roughly 500,000 in jail for nonviolent drug offenses.
"It is critical that we change both the way we think about drug laws in this country and how we generate positive solutions that leave a lasting impact on rebuilding our communities," said hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, who spearheaded the letter along with Dr. Boyce Watkins. "We need to break the school to prison pipeline, support and educate our younger generations and provide them with a path that doesn't leave them disenfranchised with limited options."
boycewatkins.com Dr. Boyce Watkins.
The letter recommends extending the Fair Sentencing Act, supporting the Youth PROMISE Act, and allowing judges to set aside mandatory minimum sentences on a case-by-case basis. Others high-profile celebs who signed on include former drug addict Russell Brand, Lil Wayne, comedian Chris Rock, boxer Mike Tyson and Mad Men star Jon Hamm.
"The letter is intended to be a respectful appeal to the Obama Administration asking that we develop productive pathways to supporting families that have been harmed by the War on Drugs," Watkins said in a Drug Policy Alliance press release. "Countless numbers of children have been waiting decades for their parents to come home, and America is made safer if we break the cycle of mass incarceration. Time is of the essence, for with each passing year that we allow injustice to prevail, our nation loses another piece of its soul. We must carefully examine the impact of the War on Drugs and the millions of living, breathing Americans who've been affected. It is, quite simply, the right thing to do."
Page down to read the letter in its entirety as well as view the hundreds of people who signed on to the letter.