criminal justice

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New Hampshire: House Committee Approves Measure Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

NewHampshireDecriminalization

Bill that would replace potential jail time with a civil fine receives bipartisan support in House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

The New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Thursday approved a bill 12-3 that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure will now go to the full House for a vote.

“Nobody should face time in jail simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Matt Simon, Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We’re glad the committee members agreed, and we hope the rest of their colleagues in the Legislature will, too. This is a commonsense reform that is long overdue.”

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for third or subsequent offenses. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

The House passed a nearly identical bill last year by a vote of 215-92, but the Senate refused to consider it.

U.S.: Faith Leaders Join Criminal Justice, Drug Policy Orgs To Call For End To War On Drugs

RacialBiasInMarijuanaArrests

Central Virginia Clergy and Community Advocates to Convene for Annual Legislative Day to Highlight Issues of Social Injustice on February 5

As part of its 2015 Virginia General Assembly Legislative Day, Baptist Minister's Conference of Richmond & Vicinity (BMCRV), Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration and its partners the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference and the Drug Policy Alliance will spend Thursday in dialog with Virginia Senators, House of Delegates members, top McAuliffe Administration officials and others on the myriad of social justice issues affecting Virginians.

Ministers and advocates will share stories on the many ways Virginians are impacted by the ongoing failure of Virginia Legislators to seriously consider the needs of all Virginians – in particular, the needs of the poor and the marginalized.

BMCRV is comprised of over 80 Baptist churches located in Central Virginia representing about 50,000 members, family and friends.

What: Press Conference

Where: The first floor Press Room of the General Assembly building

Date: Thursday, February 5, 2015

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Speakers:
Rev. Dr. Marlon Haskell, President, Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Richmond and Vicinity
Jesse Frierson, Executive Director, Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration
Rev. Dr. Marcus Small, Board Member, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Lindsey Lawson Battaglia, JD, Policy Manager, National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance

California: Prop 47 Takes Significant Step Towards Ending Mass Incarceration and War On Drugs

YesOn47(California2014)

Passage of Proposition 47 Will Spare Thousands From Unnecessary Time Behind Bars and Save Billions of Taxpayer Dollars

DPA: Overwhelming Support Sends Powerful National Message

California voters on Tuesday took a significant step toward ending mass incarceration and the War On Drugs by approving Proposition 47. On the heels of reforming the state’s “three strikes” law in the 2012 election, Californians overwhelmingly voted to change six low-level, nonviolent offenses – including simple drug possession – from felonies to misdemeanors.

“The overwhelming support for this reform sends a powerful message nationally, demonstrating that voters are not just ready but eager to reduce prison populations in ways that can enhance public safety,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

“This is a win for everyone in California,” said Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Stephen Downing (Ret.), a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “We’ll save millions keeping nonviolent drug offenders out of state prison, and those resources will be redirected toward public education, victim services, and mental health treatment programs that actually address the problems of addiction.”

New Jersey: Voters Have Opportunity To Fix State's Broken Bail System

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Public Question No. 1 Would Usher in Comprehensive Bail Reform To Increase Public Safety and Improve Justice for All

Advocates across the New Jersey have launched a campaign to support Public Question No. 1 on November 4. Public Question No. 1 asks voters to change the New Jersey Constitution to give judges the ability to deny bail to dangerous suspects and will usher in comprehensive bail reform in New Jersey.

The proposed Constitutional Amendment also authorizes the Legislature to pass laws to operationalize the amendment — an important action that the Legislature has already accomplished. At the same time that the Legislature passed the resolution to put the bail reform question to the voters, it also passed, with bi-partisan support, groundbreaking legislation to comprehensively reform New Jersey’s broken bail system.

This legislation only goes into effect if the Constitutional amendment on the ballot wins a majority on November 4.

A report released early last year found that on any given day, nearly 75 percent of the 15,000 individuals in New Jersey jails are awaiting trial rather than serving a sentence. The average length of pretrial incarceration for these individuals is more than ten months.

U.S.: 80 Organizations Come Together To Protect the Kids and End the Drug War

EndTheDrugWarSaveOurChildren

Broad Coalition Comprised of Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Immigration, Racial Justice, Human Rights Organizations

A diverse coalition of more than 80 civil rights, immigration, criminal justice, racial justice, human rights, libertarian and religious organizations are joined by notable figures such as Michelle Alexander in calling for an end to the War On Drugs in the name of protecting children both in Latin America and here in the United States.

The supporters of the letter -– which include the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Center for Constitutional Rights, Institute of the Black World, Presente.org, Students for Liberty, United We Dream, William C. Velasquez Institute, and the Working Families Organization -– are notable for their diversity in cause and focus, yet this issue unites them all.

In their letter of support for new policies, the coalition states:

"In recent weeks, the plight of the 52,000 unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S. border since last October, many of whom are fleeing drug war violence in Central America, has permeated our national consciousness. The devastating consequences of the drug war have not only been felt in Latin America, they are also having ravaging effects here at home. All too often, children are on the frontlines of this misguided war that knows no borders or color lines."

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