The Drug Policy Alliance is involved in several efforts to protect families from harmful drug war policies.
Pregnant women have been uniquely victimized by the drug war. Women accused of using drugs while pregnant have lost their children and been prosecuted for child abuse, delivery of drugs to a minor, and even homicide. These misguided punitive approaches to drug use during pregnancy violate mothers’ autonomy and right to privacy. They put women’s health and their pregnancies at risk by creating a disincentive for seeking prenatal care and drug treatment. DPA has represented leading medical and public health organizations in amicus briefs in state and federal cases opposing the criminalization of drug use during pregnancy.
Criminal sentencing reform for nonviolent drug offenses is a top priority for DPA. In 2010, we were instrumental in ushering through Congress legislation that reduced the discriminatory sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. We are working hard to completely eliminate the disparity and to put an end to other harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws. By ending draconian criminal penalties for nonviolent drug offenses, we can ensure that fewer families are torn apart by the war on drugs.
DPA understands that youth drug use is a major concern to families, and we feel that many of the current policies aimed at curbing drug use among young people miss the mark. Instead of harsh zero tolerance policies and abstinence-only drug education, we advocate assistance and counseling for students with substance use problems and honest, reality-based drug education for all youth.