Tomorrow: HPD Info Briefing on DV at the Legislature

Senator Will Espero, Chair
Senator Rosalyn H. Baker, Vice Chair

Rep. Henry J.C. Aquino, Chair
Rep. Kaniela Ing, Vice Chair


Tuesday, September 30
10 – 12 noon
Room 309

 The purpose of this informational briefing is to update the legislators in regards to domestic violence in Hawaii, Honolulu Police Department response, and ideas for improvement.

  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Overview of Domestic Violence laws – Domestic Violence Action Center – Loretta Sheehan, esq., Nicole Edwards Masuda, esq. 
  3. Annual Statistics and data-   DVAC – Community Outreach & Education –  Cindy Spencer, Vice President
  4. Police Response to DV calls – Honolulu Police Department – Chief Louis Kealoha, Police Chief
  5. Response to DV calls if alleged abuser is HPD – Honolulu Police Department
  6. Status report of Officer Cachola video – Honolulu Police Department
  7. The role of the Police Commission – Police Commission – Gregory Gilmartin, Executive Officer
  8. Best Practices of Law Enforcement – Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Marci Lopes, Executive Director
  9. Experiences of victims – Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, Cathy Betts, Executive Director
  10. Independent Review Board Proposal –  Aaron Hunger, Instructor of Criminal Justice at Remington College & Ph.D. at UH of Manoa
  11. Adjournment

No public testimony will be accepted.

Visitation Cancelled Again

From Kat:

Yesterday was another sad day for families who try to maintain connections with their loved ones imprisoned in WCCC and OCCC. I received an email from a person who is not involved in justice issues asking why the community is not OUTRAGED at this continual problem. I know that families have a hard time speaking out since retaliation is very real, however, it is time for us to stand together to demand that the department deal with this RIGHT NOW. What should we do? Sign wave in front of OCCC and/or WCCC, start a petition…send me your ideas and your commitment to participate…

Family visits canceled again at women’s prison, OCCC
Star-Advertiser staff. Sept. 28, 2014


AG Holder Formally Resigns

imgresUS Attorney General Eric Holder has formally resigned. He will stay until a replacement is found. This is sad because he has been saying all the right stuff about mandatory minimums promoting disparity, prisons being unsustainable, and low level drug lawbreakers.  We hope that his replacement will follow through with his philosophy. We know that many right-wing folks in Congress follow Newt Gingrich & Pat Nolan’s Right on Crime activity, so let’s hope that common sense prevails.

Attorney General Eric Holder to step down
Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2014

“Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., an original member of President Obama’s Cabinet and a vocal proponent of civil rights and criminal justice reform, plans to leave the post as soon as a successor is confirmed…

“President Obama will make an announcement about HolderThursday afternoon, according to White House officials.”

Eric Holder To Step Down As Attorney General
Carrie Johnson, NPR, Sept. 25, 2014

“Eric Holder Jr., the nation’s first black U.S. attorney general, is preparing to announce his resignation Thursday after a tumultuous tenure marked by civil rights advances, national security threats, reforms to the criminal justice system and 5 1/2 years of fights with Republicans in Congress.

“Two sources familiar with the decision tell NPR that Holder, 63, intends to leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed, a process that could run through 2014 and even into next year. A former U.S. government official says Holder has been increasingly “adamant” about his desire to leave soon for fear that he otherwise could be locked in to stay for much of the rest of President Obama’s second term.”

AG Holder: “We Can’t Incarcerate Our Way to Public Safety”

imgresYesterday, U.S. Attorney General, Eric  Holder, spoke at the Brennan Center for Justice. It is heartening to hear the feds talking about mass incarceration being unsustainable  and how we can’t incarcerate our way to public safety. Now our job is to clean out the ears of Hawai`i’s law enforcement community so they too can hear this message.

One Year After Launching Key Sentencing Reforms, Attorney General Holder Announces First Drop in Federal Prison Population in More Than Three Decades
Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

“In a speech at the Brennan Center for Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder announced   today that the federal prison population has dropped by roughly 4,800 inmates since September 2013.  This represents the first time the federal inmate population has fallen,  rather than risen, over the course of a fiscal year since 1980.


After all – as I’ve often said – the United States will never be able to prosecute or  incarcerate its way to becoming a safer nation.


But statistics have shown – and all of us have seen – that high incarceration rates and longer-than-necessary prison terms have not played a significant role in materially improving public safety, reducing crime, or strengthening communities.


We know that over-incarceration crushes opportunity.  We know it prevents     people, and entire communities, from getting on the right track.  And we’ve seen that –  as more and   more government leaders have gradually come to recognize – at a   fundamental level, it challenges our commitment to the cause of justice.”


Federal prison population drops by roughly 4,800
Eric Tucker, Associated Press, philly.c0m, Sept. 23, 2014

“WASHINGTON (AP) – The federal prison population has dropped in the last year by roughly 4,800, the first time in several decades that the inmate count has gone down,according to the Justice Department.


The crime rate has dropped along with the prison population, Holder said, proving that “longer-than-necessary prison terms” don’t improve public safety. “In fact, the opposite is often true,” he said


this era, he said, ‘It’s no longer adequate – or appropriate – to rely on outdated models that prize only enforcement, as quantified by numbers of prosecutions, convictions, and  lengthy sentences, rather than taking a holistic view.'”


Holder: ‘We Can’t Incarcerate Our Way to Public Safety’
Cara Tabachnick, The Crime Report, Sept. 24, 2014


Federal Prosecution for the 21st Century
Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Nicole Fortier, Inimai M. Chettiar, Brennan Center for Justice, September 23, 2014

“This new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law proposes modernizing one key aspect of the criminal justice system: federal prosecutors. Prosecutors are in a uniquely powerful position to bring change, since they make decisions about when and whether to bring criminal charges, and make recommendations for sentencing. The report proposes reorienting the way prosecutors’ “success” is measured around three core goals: Reducing violent and serious crime, reducing prison populations, and reducing recidivism. The mechanism for change would be a shift in how attorneys’ performance is assessed, to give prosecutors incentives to focus on how their practices reduce crime in and improve the communities they serve, instead of making their “success” simply a measure of how many individuals they convict and send to prison.”

Full Report here

Foreword here

Introduction here

Executive Summary here

This report recommends:

  • U.S. Attorneys implement, as a best practice, self-evaluations of their offices using success measures for priorities;
  • U.S. Attorneys change individual prosecutor evaluations to include similar success measures;
  • The Justice Department adds success measures for core priorities when evaluating U.S. Attorneys’ Offices;
  • The Justice Department modifies the model individual prosecutor evaluation form to include similar success measures;
  • The Justice Department provides additional funding for U.S. Attorneys’ Offices that achieve certain success measures; and
  • Additional reforms, such as using the bully pulpit, expanding training and interview practices, expanding access to data, and increasing coordination for federal grant dollars.

By implementing these recommendations, federal prosecutors can shift outcomes to better reduce crime, dispense justice, and reduce incarceration. This shift in practices can help spur momentum for a similar shift in state and local practices in these districts, as explained in Part IV.

Holding prosecutors accountable to the public would be a great idea, as well. Hard to tell how things are decided when decisions are made in the dark, behind closed and locked doors! At least court is held in open session and the records are public.  The current prosecutorial system only breeds corruption and suspicion.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force O`ahu Public Hearing

The 2014 Hawai`i Legislature passed a resolution (HCR 48) that established a Task Force to make recommendations to the 2015 Legislature for a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana patients. As many of you know, Kat has been a caregiver to several people for whom medical marijuana enabled them to spend their last days able to communicate with their loved ones. The Task Force has been meeting since July and is holding a public hearing:

Medical Marijuana Dispensary System Task Force (HCR48 HD2, SD1)
DATE: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
TIME: 5:00 PM
PLACE: Capitol Auditorium 415 South Beretania Street, Chamber Level

Pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution 48, HD2, SD1, the Public Policy Center of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa convened the Medical Marijuana Dispensary System Task Force (“Dispensary Task Force”) to develop recommendations for the establishment of a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana to provide safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualified patients. On September 2, 2014, the Legislative Reference Bureau published an updated report to its 2009 report on the policies and procedures for access, distribution, security, and other relevant issues related to the medical use of cannabis in all states that currently have a medical cannabis program. The Dispensary Task Force has been charged with holding at least one public hearing to receive public input on the updated report received from the Legislative Reference Bureau. The Dispensary Task Force will submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2015.  Public testimony on issues and concerns regarding dispensaries in Hawai‘i and any input on the updated report received from the Legislative Reference Bureau and will be accepted at this public hearing. For copies of the report of the Legislative Reference Bureau, visit


Persons wishing to offer comments should submit testimony at least 24 hours prior to the hearing. Testimony can be addressed to the Dispensary Task Force and should indicate the testifier’s name with their position/title and organization, if applicable. Submit testimony prior to the hearing in ONE of the following ways:

PAPER: 2 copies (including an original) to Room 331 in the State Capitol;

E-MAIL: For testimony less than 10MB in size, e-mail testimony

Electronic testimony will be accepted until the start of the hearing. Persons wishing to testify in person are invited to attend the hearing and present their testimony. It is highly encouraged, however, that testifiers also provide their testimony in advance by either e-mail or paper format. Due to the anticipated numbers of participants who may wish to testify, testimony may be limited and testifiers are encouraged to bring written copies of their testimony that can be submitted to the Task Force staff so that this testimony can be shared with all the members of the Task Force. While every effort will be made to consider all testimony received, materials received on the day of the hearing or improperly identified or directed, may be distributed to the Dispensary Task Force after the hearing. Testimony submitted may be placed on the webpage of the UH-Manoa Public Policy Center. This public posting of testimony on the website should be considered when including personal information in your testimony.


If you require special assistance or auxiliary aids and/or services to participate in this hearing (i.e., sign or foreign language interpreter or wheelchair accessibility), please contact the office of Representative Della Au Belatti at (808) 586-9425 at least 24 hours prior to the hearing for arrangements. Prompt requests submitted help to ensure the availability of qualified individuals and appropriate accommodations.

For further information, please call the office of Representative Della Au Belatti at (808) 586-9425.


Smarter Sentencing Act

Today we will focus on reforms that have proven to lower the number of imprisoned persons and have increased public safety. First and foremost has to be sentencing reform. CAP has been working on eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing and restoring judicial discretion for more than a decade. This has been identified by renowned criminologists as one of the big drivers of the prison population along with sentencing for drug offenses and way too long prison sentences.

A few days ago the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that giving federal judges more discretion in sentencing those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses  would save the federal government $4.36 billion in prison costs.

Imagine how it could help Hawai`i’s budget…restoring the community health system, increasing effective programming in the community such as substance abuse and mental health treatment, developing more community-based  anger management and parenting classes, etc.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that a bill by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) would save the federal government $4.36 billion in prison costs by giving federal judges more discretion in sentencing those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, The Hill reports.

The CBO report “proves that, not only are mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses often unfair, they are also fiscally irresponsible,” Durbin said. The two senators said their legislation is needed to reduce federal spending and because mandatory minimum drug sentences have caused an unsustainable spike in incarceration rates. Over the past 30 years, the number of inmates in federal prisons has increased by 500 percent.  The bill doesn’t repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions but allows judges to determine a sentence based on an individual’s circumstances. 

CBO: Drug sentencing reform saves $4B
Ramsey Cox, The Hill, Sept. 15, 2014

“Today’s CBO report proves that, not only are mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses often unfair, they are also fiscally irresponsible,” Durbin said. “By making the incremental, targeted changes that Sen. Lee and I have proposed in our Smarter Sentencing Act, we can save taxpayers billions without jeopardizing public safety.”


Smarter Sentencing Act Would Save $4 Billion, Says Congressional Budget Office
FAMM, Sept. 15, 2014

“…The bill’s savings stem both from requiring less prison time of nonviolent drug offenders and “from lower costs for prisoners’ medical expenses and food as well as prison utilities,” the CBO found. “After 2019, costs for prison construction and staffing also would decline,” said CBO.

“This finding is consistent with the Justice Department’s estimate, showing savings of $3.5 billion over the first 10 years, and an additional $7.8 billion over the second 10 years, for a combined savings of $11.2 billion over 20 years. In FY 2014, prisons consumed 30 percent of the Justice Department’s budget, a situation the Department has repeatedly called “unsustainable” and a threat to funding for prosecutors, criminal investigators, and state and local law enforcement.

“‘There are now at least another four billion good reasons for Congress to pass the Smarter Sentencing Act this year,’ said Molly Gill, FAMM’s government affairs counsel. ‘Republicans, Democrats, prosecutors, and everybody from Grover Norquist to the ACLU agree that we should be saving federal prison cells and funds for the worst of the worst, not wasting them on nonviolent drug offenders who don’t need decades behind bars to learn their lesson. The Smarter Sentencing Act is a win-win situation for Congress and taxpayers. No voter is going to punish a member of Congress at the polls for supporting better justice and more public safety at a much lower price.’…”

To change the awful and unjust course that Hawai`i is on it will take a HUGE COMMUNITY OUTCRY TO DEMAND THAT WE ELIMINATE MANDATORY MINIMUMS FOR DRUG OFFENSES. We have three branches of government to ensure checks and balances. Mandatory sentencing removes discretion from the Judicial branch and instead promotes injustice, racial disparity, and long sentences have proven to increase criminality.

2 Bureau of Justice Statistics Reports – Prisoners, 2013; Victimization, 2013; Lead & Violence

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released 2 reports recently about the prison population and victimization.

There have been a plethora of articles about this data that are very interesting, including two papers by Rick Nevins, a researcher  who has been studying the link between lead poisoning and violent crime.


Confounding Critics, Nation’s Prison Population Rises
Ted Gest, The Crime Report, Sept. 16, 2014

“Breaking a four-year trend, the nation’s prison population rose again last year, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said today.


“Given that crime rates overall are down, the continuing large numbers being sent to prison indicate that many mandatory prison sentence laws remain in effect, and efforts to provide alternatives to incarceration are yet to take hold widely in many places.

“This increase is a clear sign that we’re not doing what it takes to reduce our incarceration,” (…)”


New BJS figures show that mass incarceration is getting bigger
Peter Wagner and Leah Sakala, Prison Policy Initiative, September 16, 2014

“This morning, the criminal justice policy world got a new key metric on mass incarceration in the U.S.: the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ national update, Prisoners in 2013. This report serves as a sobering reminder that state-level criminal justice policy decisions are continuing to ensure that our nation remains the top incarcerator in the world. While the report indicates a few promising improvements, the overall picture is grim.

“Key takeaways from the report:

  • Overall, the state and federal prison population increased slightly between 2012 and 2013. Although this is the first overall increase since 2009, the overall prison population has held fairly steady compared to the rapid rise of earlier decades.
  • The number of people incarcerated in California increased. In the past several years, in response to a Supreme Court mandate, California’s prison population declined enough to pull the national incarceration rate down.
  • While the total number of people incarcerated grew, the country as a whole grew faster, so there was a slight decline of less than half of a percent in the incarceration rate. This change is far too small to impact the results of our June report States of Incarceration: The Global Context finding that every state in this country uses incarceration far more than most of the world.

 “Here’s the good news:

  • For the first time, the federal prison population reported a decline. Over the last decade, the federal Bureau of Prisons had been reporting a growth rate more than 4 times faster than the states, so this is a significant change in direction.
  • Some states continue consistent declines in their prison population: New York and New Jersey have declined populations every year but one since 1999, Hawaii has declined for eight years in a row, and South Carolina 4 years in a row.
  • 21 states reported declines in their sentenced prison population
  • 10 states that had reported growing prison populations for both 2011 and 2012 reported a decline in 2013.

 “And the bad news:

  • Reversing 3 years of declining populations, the total prison population increased.
  • The number of admissions to prison increased and the number of releases fell in 2013. Each are a bad sign and the combination of both is particularly harmful.
  • Racial disparities continue to constitute the defining characteristic of the prison system. For example, 3% of Black males of all ages are currently incarcerated in state or federal prisons. This is a rate 6 times higher than white males.
  • 14 states hit new record high prison populations in 2013: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.
  • Texas, one of the states with the highest incarceration rates and which had a much heralded “reform” of its prison population, saw an increase in both its total prison population, its sentenced population, and its incarceration rate.

“And remember, this new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics is just talking about the state and federal prison population, which form just a portion of the much larger incarceration pie of which jails are the next largest piece.”


States of Incarceration: The Global Context World Incarceration Rates If Every U.S. State Were A Country

  • Hawai`i would be 49th of  220 US states and countries in the world with an imprisoned  population of 417 per 100,000.


The United States Has The Largest Prison Population In The World — And It’s Growing
Nicole Flatow, ThinkProgress, Sept. 17, 2014

“But it’s not all bad news. In just the federal prisons, the population actually dropped for the first time since 1980. Some experts attributed this to decreased priority on marijuana arrests, as states move toward decriminalization or legalization, and federal authorities shift their resources elsewhere.


“The proportion of inmates held in private prisons actually decreased 3 percent in 2013, after a few states ended their relationships with private prisons entirely. Private prisons now house some 8 percent of the U.S. prison population. The industry, however, has more than made up for its loss in the prison industry with its share of federal immigration detention, and its entry into other criminal justice industries like rehabilitation.”


In 2013 the State Prison Population Rose for the First Time Since 2009
Federal prison population declined for first time since 1980
News Release from Bureau of Justice Statistics September 16, 2014

“WASHINGTON – U.S. state and federal prisons held an estimated 1,574,700 inmates on December 31, 2013, an increase of 4,300 prisoners over yearend 2012, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. This was the first increase in the state prison population reported since 2009.

“While the state prison population increased by about 6,300 during 2013, the federal prison population decreased by approximately 1,900 inmates. This was the first decline in the federal prison population since 1980.

“Prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal prison increased by 5,400 persons from yearend 2012 to yearend 2013. States added 6,900 sentenced inmates in 2013, while the number of sentenced federal inmates decreased by 1,500.

“The number of sentenced prisoners grew in 27 states, including three of the four states with the largest prison populations: Texas (up 2 percent), California (up 1 percent) and Florida (up 1 percent). Sentenced prisoners in Georgia, the state with the fourth largest prison population, decreased by 1 percent in 2013. Hawaii, Idaho and Kentucky each imprisoned 5 percent fewer sentenced prisoners at yearend 2013 than at yearend 2012.”


BJS: Violent Crime Declined in 2013
Ted Gest, September 18, 2014

“The nation’s violent crime rate declined slightly last year after two years of increases, the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics said today in its annual victimization survey.”


Prisoners in 2013: The News Media Buries the Lead
Rick Nevin

“The Answer is Lead Poisoning.”

Very interesting, yes?

Mahalo for caring about all of Hawai`i’s people serving sentences near and far. Please also remember their families – the invisibly incarcerated.

CCA is focusing on reducing recidivism…Not! Caveat Emptor!

imgres-1And now for the latest news from the profiteers who call our men “monkeys”….

Prison Firm CCA Seeks to Reduce Number of Repeat Offenders
Company Pushes to Reduce Costs Associated with Recidivism
Devlin Barret, The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 12, 2014

“Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, is shifting its focus toward helping release more inmates and keep them out. The firm tells the Wall Street Journal it is a reaction to changing public policies on the severity of criminal punishment. After three decades of surging prison populations, the number of people behind bars is reaching apparent stability. Repeat offenders remain a costly headwind. A Justice Department study of data from 2005 to 2010 in 30 states found that three out of four released prisoners will be rearrested within five years of their release. Damon Hininger, CCA chief executive, said government clients are increasingly concerned about the long-term costs of housing inmates and are pushing CCA and other private operators to save them money by reducing recidivism.
“He plans to expand the company’s rehabilitation programs, drug counseling and prisoner re-entry work. It’s a significant shift for CCA, which has built a profitable business from incarcerating people, now nearly 70,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities. The company is the fifth-largest U.S.  correction system, after the federal government and California, Florida and Texas. Hedy Weinberg of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee has doubts about the company’s initiative. “It must be a challenge for CCA to implement programs that could reduce recidivism when that runs counter to the private prison model itself,” she said. “We can only hope that CCA’s interest in such programs indicate a shift away from its previous stance that ‘reductions in crime rates’ are a ‘risk factor’ for business and toward a completely new business model that does not rely on ever-growing mass incarceration.” (

Losing state contracts has made them “see the light” … NOT! They are now seeking to dupe states with their reentry programs. What a crock!  

Caveat Emptor
Let the buyer beware!


2014 Global Commission on Drug Policy Report; Research on Misdemeanor Decriminalization

imgresAs you may have heard, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, has released its second report. Today’s post contains articles and the report.

The US and Hawai`i are definitely outliers in the world of drug policy. Pushing punative laws has not only helped to bankrupt governments; it has severely impacted other important aspects of governmental budgets and services such as education, health care, and human services.

This is especially relevant in Hawai`i since we are in the midst of a Task Force to make recommendations to the legislature for the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries for our sick and suffering residents.

It seems that everyone in the world knows the war on drugs is a complete and abject failure…while Hawai`i  continues to push punitive laws and sentences for an issue that should be addressed in the  public health arena.

 Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work
Global Commission on Drug Policy, September 2014

Below are six examples from the report of how the war on drugs has failed:

  1. A Failure on Its Own Terms The international community is further than ever from realizing a “drug-free world.” Global drug production, supply and use continue to rise despite increasing resources being directed toward enforcement. Read more
  1. Threatening Public Health and Safety Punitive drug law enforcement fuels crime and maximizes the health risks associated with drug use, especially among the most vulnerable. This is because drug production, shipment and retail are left in the hands of organized criminals, and people who use drugs are criminalized, rather than provided with assistance. Read more
  1. Undermining Human Rights, Fostering Discrimination Punitive approaches to drug policy are severely undermining human rights in every region of the world. They lead to the erosion of civil liberties and fair trial standards, the stigmatization of individuals and groups—particularly women, young people, and ethnic minorities—and the imposition of abusive and inhumane punishments. Read more
  1. Fueling Crime and Enriching Criminals Rather than reduce crime, enforcement-based drug policy actively fuels it. Spiraling illicit drug prices provide a profit motive for criminal groups to enter the trade, and drive some people who are dependent on drugs to commit crime in order to fund their use. Read more
  1. Undermining Development and Security, Fueling Conflict Criminal drug producers and traffickers thrive in fragile, conflict-affected and underdeveloped regions, where vulnerable populations are easily exploited. The corruption, violence, and instability generated by unregulated drug markets are widely recognized as a threat to both security and development. Read more
  1. Wasting Billions, Undermining Economies Tens of billions are spent on drug law enforcement every year. And while good for the defense industry, there are disastrous secondary costs, both financial and social.Read more

The Global Commission’s new report recommends the following steps for future drug policy:

  • Putting health and community safety first requires a fundamental reorientation of policy priorities and resources, from failed punitive enforcement to proven health and social interventions. Read more
  • Stop criminalizing people for drug use and possession – and stop imposing “compulsory treatment” on people whose only offense is drug use or possession. Read more
  • Focus on reducing the power of criminal organizations as well as the violence and insecurity that result from their competition with both one another and the state. Read more
  • Take advantage of the opportunity presented by the upcoming UNGASS in 2016 to reform the global drug policy regime. Read more
  • Ensure equitable access to essential medicines, in particular opiate-based medications for pain. Read more
  • Rely on alternatives to incarceration for non-violent, low-level participants in illicit drug markets such as farmers, couriers and others involved in the production, transport and sale of illicit drugs. Read more
  • Allow and encourage diverse experiments in legally regulating markets in currently illicit drugs, beginning with but not limited to cannabis, coca leaf and certain novel psychoactive substances. Read more

World Leaders from 20 Nations Explain How to Dig Our Way Out of the Devastating War on Drugs
The new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy is a useful roadmap.
April M. Short, AlterNet, Sept. 10, 2014

Panel of Global Leaders Urges Drug Policy Overhaul
Edith M. Lederer Associated Press, abcNews, Sept. 9, 2014



Mending Justice – “explores the potential to learn from errors in the criminal justice system by applying a sentinel event review approach”

mending-justiceMending Justice: Sentinel Event Reviews was recently released by the National Institute of Justice, Through essays from a wide range of experts, this book (that you can download for free here) responds to the question, “How should the criminal justice system respond to errors?”

About the book (from

“A common response is to seek out “bad apples,” apportion blame, and conclude that the error has been dealt with once that individual is punished or a policy is changed.

“But errors in a complex system are rarely the result of a single act or event. In medicine, aviation and other high-risk enterprises, serious errors are regarded as system errors or “organizational accidents.” Organizational accidents are potential “sentinel events,” incidents that could signal more complex flaws that threaten the integrity of the system as a whole. These other complex systems have developed sentinel event reviews — nonblaming, all-stakeholder, forward-leaning mechanisms — to go beyond disciplining rule-breakers in an effort to minimize the risk of similar errors in the future and improve overall system reliability.

“Mending Justice: Sentinel Event Reviews explores the potential to learn from errors in the criminal justice system by applying a sentinel event review approach.

“The primary essay — written by James Doyle, a Visiting Fellow with NIJ for two years — discusses how principles used by aviation and medicine to improve outcomes could be adopted in criminal justice.

“The book includes a message from the Attorney General and 16 commentaries from highly respected representatives of criminal justice researchers, practitioners and other stakeholders.”

“Justice professionals are “deceiving” themselves if they believe their decisions and actions are infallible” – Attorney General Eric Holder