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  1. Italy's strict drug law goes up in smoke

    16 February 2014
    Other news

    On February 12, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Fini-Giovanardi law setting out penalties related to the sale and possession of illegal drugs, was improperly approved, and abrogated the law. Since then, Italy has returned to previous regulations that imposed lighter sanctions on cannabis users. Prisoners' rights organisations argued that harsh drug laws have created a booming prison population in a system that is already overcrowded. Since January 2013, Italy's prisons have been under the scrutiny of the European Court of Human Rights.

  2. Italy relaxes cannabis penalties

    12 February 2014
    Other news

    Italy's Constitutional Court struck down an anti-drug law from 2006 that imposed tough sentencing for the sale and possession of cannabis, putting it on the same level as heroin and cocaine.

  3. Class A drugs policy failing, say prison governors

    24 April 2013
    Other news

    "The current war on drugs is successful in creating further victims of acquisitive crime, increasing cost to the taxpayer to accommodate a higher prison population and allowing criminals to control and profit from the sale and distribution of Class A drugs," PGA president Eoin McLennan-Murray. "A fundamental review of the prohibition-based policy is desperately required and this is why the Prison Governors Association are keen to support the Count the Costs initiative."

  4. reefer-madness

    Racism's Hidden History in the War on Drugs

    Judge Frederic Block, Federal judge
    02 January 2013
    Other news

    The first anti-drug law in the US was a local law in San Francisco passed in 1875, outlawing the smoking of opium and directed at the Chinese. Marijuana prohibition also had racist underpinnings. This time it was the Mexicans. Just as cocaine was associated with black violence and opium with Chines white slavery, in the southwest border towns of the US marijuana was viewed -- beginning in the early 1920s -- as a cause of Mexican lawlessness.

  5. Brad Pitt: America's war on drugs is a charade, and a failure

    Brad Pitt
    31 March 2013
    Other news

    "Since declaring a war on drugs 40 years ago, the United States has spent more than a trillion dollars, arrested more than 45 million people, and racked up the highest incarceration rate in the world. Yet it remains laughably easy to obtain illegal drugs. So why do we continue down this same path? Why do we talk about the drug war as if it's a success? It's a charade." (See: The house I live in)

  6. The painful price of aging in prison

    01 May 2015
    Other news

    In recent years, federal sentencing guidelines have been revised, resulting in less severe prison terms for low-level drug offenders. But tens of thousands of inmates who were convicted in the "war on drugs" of the 1980s and 1990s are still behind bars. Harsh sentencing policies, including mandatory minimums, continue to have lasting consequences for inmates and the nation’s prison system. Today, prisoners 50 and older represent the fastest-growing population in crowded federal correctional facilities, their ranks having swelled by 25 percent to nearly 31,000 from 2009 to 2013.

  7. The United States rethinks draconian drug sentencing policies

    • Elizabeth Lincoln
    27 January 2015

    Across the Americas, an unprecedented debate on drug policy reform is underway. While a regional consensus on what form those reforms should take remains elusive, there are at least two issues where consensus is growing: the need to address drug use as a public health, rather than criminal, issue and the need to promote alternatives to incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders and ensure proportionality in sentencing for drug-related crimes. Draconian drug laws were often adopted in Latin American countries with the encouragement – if not outright diplomatic, political and economic pressure – from the U.S. government.

  8. Is the war on drugs nearing an end?

    07 April 2013
    Other news

    For four decades, libertarians, civil rights activists and drug treatment experts have stood outside of the political mainstream in arguing that the war on drugs was sending too many people to prison, wasting too much money, wrenching apart too many families -- and all for little or no public benefit. They were always in the minority. But a sign of a new reality emerged: for the first time in four decades of polling, the Pew Research Center found that more than half of Americans support legalizing marijuana.

  9. meyer-mexico-prison-story-top

    In Mexico, guilty till proven innocent

    Maureen Meyer
    07 June 2013
    Other news

    The case of Yanira Maldonado brought international attention once more to the innocent people getting caught in Mexico's drug war. Maldonado, a U.S. citizen and mother of seven children, was released late last week after spending more than a week in a prison in Nogales, Mexico, accused of trying to transport marijuana aboard a bus.

  10. Breaking the taboo about drugs

    Global Commission on Drug Policy
    17 May 2013
    Other news

    After more than four decades of a failed war on drugs, calls for a change in strategy are growing louder by the day. In Latin America, the debate is positively deafening. Statesmen from Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Uruguay are taking the lead for transformations in their own drug regime, which has set a strong dynamic of change across the region and around the world. Their discussion has expanded to the US, where public opinion toward regulation is also changing. (See also: Western leaders study 'gamechanging' report on global drugs trade)

  11. embarrassing-drug-graph

    The most embarrassing graph in American drug policy

    Wonkblog
    28 May 2013
    Other news

    Law enforcement strategies have utterly failed to even maintain street prices of the key illicit substances. This figure shows that street drug prices fell by roughly a factor of five between in 1980 and 2008. Meanwhile the number of drug offenders locked up in our jails and prisons went from fewer than 42,000 in 1980 to a peak of 562,000 in 2007. We have remarkably little evidence that the billions of dollars spent on supply-side interdiction have much impact.

  12. ericholder

    Justice Dept. Seeks to Curtail Stiff Drug Sentences

    Charlie Savage
    13 August 2013
    Other news

    WASHINGTON — In a major shift in criminal justice policy, the Obama administration will move on Monday to ease overcrowding in federal prisons by ordering prosecutors to omit listing quantities of illegal substances in indictments for low-level drug cases, sidestepping federal laws that impose strict mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offenses.

  13. Sentenced to a slow death

    Icaria Editorial
    15 November 2013
    Other news

    If this were happening in any other country, Americans would be aghast. A sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for trying to sell $10 of marijuana to an undercover officer? The punishment is so extreme, so irrational, so wildly disproportionate to the crime that it defies explanation. As of 2012, there were 3,278 prisoners serving sentences of life without parole for such crimes, according to an extensive and astonishing report issued by the American Civil Liberties Union.

  14. camerondouglas

    Words Behind Walls

    Cameron Douglas
    13 June 2013
    Other news

    Well, let me start by saying that I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my thoughts and feelings with you. I hope maybe in some way, this gives you a little window into my reality and more importantly, into my heart. So, here I sit at my little table in the belly of the beast, writing to you. I have spent close to two of my four years of incarceration in solitary confinement.

  15. women-prisons

    Drug Policies and Women's Rights on UN Agenda

    16 October 2013
    Other news

    At the 56th Session of the UN Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) this week in Geneva, the UN gender experts from around the world gather to examine the state performance on the rights of women including discussing strengthening the rule of law and access to justice in achieving universal human rights including those for women.

  16. injection

    Doctors say UK drug policy should focus more on health

    15 January 2013
    Other news

    Although illicit drug use has been declining in the UK, long-term problem drug use and drug-related deaths are not decreasing, says the British Medical Association. Its Board of Science says evidence shows the current prohibitive approach to drug use is not working. It says doctors should inform drugs policy to put patients' needs first.

  17. Drugs in Brazil: Cracking up

    05 April 2013
    Other news

    São Paulo’s Cracolândia was Brazil’s first and is still its biggest. It is home to 2,000 addicts. But most Brazilian cities now have similar districts. Recent studies put the country’s crack-using population at 1m-1.2m, the world’s largest. Some city governments have used strong-arm tactics against the crack epidemic—with little effect other than to fill prisons, which have more than twice as many inmates as a decade ago.

  18. prison-recove

    What Long-Term Recovery Looks Like From Prison

    Seth Ferranti
    17 June 2013
    Other news

    I am near the end of a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. I’m currently spending my 20th consecutive summer away from my loving wife and family.

  19. UN concerned by arbitrary arrests in Brazil

    27 March 2013
    Other news

    The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention voiced concern about the rising number of arbitrary arrests in Brazil, which has one of the highest prison populations in the world with around 550,000 persons, 217,000 (about 40%) of whom are in pre-trial detention. They also expressed serious concerns regarding the arrests and compulsory confinement of drug addicts due to forthcoming major events such as the Soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. (See: Prison overcrowding in Brazil)

  20. pri-war-on-drugs

    The unintended negative consequences of the 'war on drugs'

    28 February 2013

    Criminalisation of drug users, excessive levels of imprisonment, and punitive sentencing practices, including mandatory sentencing, the death penalty and enforced ‘drug detention centres’, are some of the unintended negative consequences of the 50 year ‘war on drugs’, a policy with direct impact on the vulnerable, poor and socially excluded groups, including ethnic minorities and women. This PRI briefing paper discusses these consequences in detail and sets out what parliamentarians can do about it.

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