News Release

NACDL Board Passes Unanimous Resolution Criminal defense bar calls for end to "War on Drugs"

Washington, DC (November 13, 2000) -- "The ''war on drugs'' is elitist, racist, hypocritical, and stupid," said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Edward Mallett November 4 in New York as the association's board of directors unanimously passed a resolution calling for its end. NACDL released the final version of the resolution to the public today.

NACDL board member Fred Leatherman of Seattle, who drafted the resolution, was gratified by the unanimous vote. "As a nation, we've stood by and watched this ''war on drugs'' lock up a whole generation of young African-Americans. All the evidence says it's a sham and a failure. And everybody else who makes money from it thinks we should escalate the war. We do not agree," he said.

"Both of our presidential candidates committed ''youthful indiscretions'' in their day. Would they, or we, be better off if they had been sent to prison, like so many blacks and Latinos are these days?" asked Mallett, a Houston criminal defense lawyer.

The NACDL resolution (attached) cites numerous statistical examples of racial injustice in the ''war on drugs.''

"The overwhelming win of the mandatory treatment law in California, which came largely because of Arizona's success, shows that the public knows it's time to start looking for better solutions," said Leatherman.

California's Proposition 36, which mandates treatment rather than imprisonment for many first- and second-time drug defendants, passed with 61% of the vote on November 7. Both Proposition 36 and the Arizona law, which showed 77 percent of offenders testing drug free at the end of treatment in its first year, are expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars in imprisonment costs and new prison construction.

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NACDL Communications Department

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.