A broad coalition of Christian leaders have taken the occasion of the holiest day on the Christian calendar to release a statement calling for the end of the war on drugs and mass incarceration.
“The cross that faith leaders are imploring others to take up is this unjust, and immoral war on drugs and mass incarceration of the poor. In particular, poor black and brown young adults whose futures are being ruined at the most critical point in their lives,” said Reverend John E. Jackson of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.
“We are guided by our religious principles to serve those in need and give voice to those who have been marginalized and stigmatized by unjust policies. We cannot sit silently while a misguided war is waged on entire communities, ostensibly under the guise of combating the very real harms of drug abuse. The war on drugs has become a costly, ineffective and unjust failure,” says Reverend Edwin Sanders, who is a Board Member of the Drug Policy Alliance and the Senior Servant for the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
The statement makes the following recommendations:
- Repeal laws that criminalize drug possession and replace them with policies that expand access to effective health approaches to drug use, including evidence-based drug treatment.
- Eliminate policies that result in racially disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates.
- End policies that unjustly exclude people with a record of arrest or conviction from key rights and opportunities.
These Christian leaders have chosen Easter season to release their statement because of the spirit of the Resurrection, which Easter commemorates and celebrates.
“We are called upon to follow Jesus’s example in opposing the war on drugs, which has resulted in the United States becoming the world’s biggest jailer, with about 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners,” added Sanders.
“Resurrection reality commissions and commands us to change these policies, laws and systems that rob whole communities of their most precious resource, their young. These are the ones Jesus faced betrayal, denial and desertion for. These are the ones Jesus gave up everything for. These are the issues Jesus was raised from a 3 day grave to speak truth to power to through our voices, through our crying loud and sparing not and through our organized efforts,” added Jackson.