by Ivette Alé
We are happy to spread the news: Yesterday, June 27, 2017, the RISE Act (SB180 authored by Senator Holly Mitchell and Ricardo Lara) passed the California Assembly Public Safety Committee! After more than forty-five years of the War on Drugs, California is one step closer to passing legislation that moves toward undoing some of the harms caused by this attack on low income communities of color.
In June of 1971, President Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one” causing soaring arrest rates that deliberately targeted Black people. Nixon dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies and pushed through measures like mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants. In the 1980s, during the height of the drug war hysteria, the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, while the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%.
The RISE Act will repeal sentencing enhancements for prior drug convictions. Our partners at The Drug Policy Alliance put out a press release that gives some history of these ineffective sentence enhancements, their harm, and how this bill has moved through our legislature. After decades of the War on Drugs, it is clear that purely punitive approaches to legal offenses are counterproductive.
Jeff Sessions wants to continue Nixon’s legacy and the RISE Act is an important and powerful way to make it clear to Sessions and the federal administration that we want NO MORE WAR ON DRUGS! As the bill heads to the Assembly floor, let’s stay active and ready to encourage our Assembly Members to vote in favor of passing this important and long awaited policy change. Thank you for your continued support. People power is on the RISE!
Peace and power,
Amber-Rose Howard, Statewide Co-Coordinator
Californians United for a Responsible Budget