This week, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) will launch a month-long online tribute to Latino drug policy reformers. As the nation reflects upon the history, cultures and contributions of Latinos in the U.S., DPA recognizes the significant and far-reaching roles that Latino activists, communities, advocates and movement builders have played and continue to play in ending the war on drugs.
The drug war has had a devastating impact on Latino and Latin American communities – fueling mass incarceration, widespread detention and deportation, border militarization, racial profiling, and rampant crime, corruption and violence. Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population, and use and sell drugs at similar rates as other people in the U.S. Yet Latinos comprise 20 percent of people in state prisons for drug offenses, 37 percent of people in federal prisons for drug offenses, and almost half (47 percent) of all cases in federal courts for drug offenses. Roughly 40,000 people (overwhelmingly Latinos) are deported every year for nonviolent drug offenses.
Against this backdrop, many Latino activists and communities are fighting back – and have been for years. From criminal justice reform advocates and groups most affected by failed drug policies to on-the-ground harm reduction activists, DPA acknowledges the profound and transformative contributions and sacrifices of this distinguished list of drug policy reformers who struggle to end the drug war in their communities – and all communities.