DRCNetDrug Reform Coordination Network

6/2/97

Support for DPR Needed Within and Without Connecticut

The state of Connecticut is poised to take a small but very significant step toward a more rational drug policy. THEY NEED TO HEAR FROM US. This is an opportunity to let the state legislature know that there really is a constituency for reform. We ask our supporters in Connecticut to urge their elected officials to support LCO #6541, an amendment which offers several reasons for hope. We ask our supporters elsewhere to contact their own legislators and ask them to take similar steps. Action items for those within and without Connecticut are included in this alert.

Several months ago, after over a year of intensive study, the Connecticut Law Revision Commission, under the courageous leadership of David Bicklen, recommended the state adopt a full slate of Harm Reduction policies in response to its drug problem. Among the recommendations were the decriminalization of personal use levels of cannabis possession, expanded methadone access, access to clean syringes, alternative to incarceration programs, realistic drug education, etc., etc., etc. A copy of the full report can be obtained by calling the Commission at (860) 240-0220.

While the commission's findings were (predictably) not fully embraced in the resulting Drug Policy bill, and have been watered down further since, LCO #6541 does take important steps toward the continuous re-evaluation and redefinition of the state's drug policy. Be assured that legislators around the country are watching the developments in Connecticut for clues as to the future of drug policy.

LCO #6541 would create a standing, bi-partisan "Drug Policy Council" which will be responsible for ongoing review of Connecticut's drug policy. This will allow for less politicized, continuous debate with the Law Review Commission's report always looming strongly as the rational alternative on the full range of drug policy issues.

LCO #6541 would also expand alternatives to incarceration by creating a new Diversion program for minor possession cases, expands drug courts (admittedly an intermediate step with its own set of problems) and allows for the waiving of mandatory minimum sentences for drug dependent defendants who were engaged in the trade for the purpose of maintaining a definable addiction.

IF YOU LIVE IN CONNECTICUT: Please contact (Call, write, fax, or email) your legislators (Contact info below). You might also contact other key legislators as well as your local media in support of LCO #6541. Please also urge further support of the common-sense measures outlined in the Law Revision Commission's Report. (Sample letter below)

As always, if possible, please send a copy of any correspondence to DRCNet, either by e-mail at drcnet@drcnet.org, or else by mail at 4455 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite B-500 Washington, DC 20008, or by fax at (202) 362-0032. But the most important thing is to contact your representatives and local media!


IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE CONNECTICUT: Contact your own state legislators (info at http://www.yikesnet.com/active.html), ask that they read the Connecticut Law Revision Report on Drug Policy, and urge that a similar, non-politicized commission be assembled in your state to study this vital and misunderstood issue. You might also send the same request to your federal legislators.

The creation and findings of the aforementioned Law Review Commission show that despite the best efforts of rabid prohibitionists, the facts are finding their way to the surface. Reasonable and informed citizens MUST seize this opportunity to be heard. Please take a moment of your time to add your voice. It will not go unheeded. The costs of doing nothing are far too high to be borne by our nation, our cities, our communities and our children.


CONNECTICUT STATE CONTACT INFORMATION:

KEY CONTACTS:
Senator Toni Harp (D)
Chairperson, Public Health Committee
P.O. Box 9493 New Haven, CT 06534 (203) 784-0204
harp@senatedems.state.ct.us

Senator Donald E. Williams Jr. (D)
Chair of the Judiciary Committee,
P.O. Box 201 Thompson, CT 06277 (860) 928-0481
williams@senatedems.state.ct.us

An e-mail directory of legislators is online at http://www.ctstateu.edu/state/leg_email.html, and many of the legislators do have e-mail. Legislative and other state information is online at http://www.state.ct.us.

Other Legislators can be reached by mailing to:

Legislator's Name
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591 OR CALL:

The numbers for legislators are:

        Senate Democrats 

                (860) 240-8600 

                (800) 842-1420 

        Senate Republicans 

                (860) 240-8800

                (800) 842-1421 

        House Democrats 

                Leadership

                (860) 240-8500 

                (800) 842-1902 

        House Democrats

                Rank and File 

                (860) 240-8585 

                (800) 842-8267 

        House Republicans 

                Leadership 

                (860) 240-8700 

                (800) 842-1423 

        House Republicans 

                Rank and File 

                (860) 240-8787 

                (800) 842-8270 

        Judiciary Committee 

                (860) 240-0530 

        Public Health Committee 

                (860) 240-0560






SAMPLE LETTER FOR CONNECTICUT RESIDENTS:

Dear ______:

I write to you today to urge your support for LCO #6541, which will put the State of Connecticut on the path toward a more rational drug policy. As it stands, far too much hard-earned tax money is being wasted in an effort to incarcerate our way out of our substance abuse problem. Support for this legislation will demonstrate a commitment to pragmatism over politics, a commitment it is time to make. I further urge that you continue to consider the other broad based reforms recommended by the Connecticut Law Revision Commission. It is time that the state of Connecticut, as well as the rest of the nation, begin to consider alternatives to a "Zero Tolerance" policy that has saddled our great nation, simultaneously, with the highest rates of incarceration AND the highest rates of drug use in the world. Often it takes courage to do the right thing. I for one am counting on you to show that courage, and to help lead our great state toward a more rational, and more effective drug policy.

                                        Sincerely,
                                        _________


SAMPLE LETTER FOR NON-CONNECTICUT RESIDENTS:

Dear ______,

I have recently learned that the legislature of the state of Connecticut has received a report from the Connecticut Law Revision Commission regarding alternatives to their clearly failing drug policy. As your constituent, I strongly urge you to fight for a similar, non-politicized commission to study and make recommendations on this complex and emotionally charged issue in our own state. The excesses of the War on Drugs are becoming clear to large numbers of concerned citizens. The U.S. is the world's largest consumer of illicit drugs despite the fact that taxpayers are footing the bill for the highest incarceration rates on the planet. Mass incarceration in the absence of pragmatic approaches has not proven to be cost effective. Neither does it show reasoned and courageous leadership by our elected officials. By failing to call for such a dispassionate review of our state's current drug policy, the citizens of the state of _______ could only assume that you are not interested in the facts surrounding this issue. This would be highly unfortunate, as leadership in the absence of information is no leadership at all.

                                        Sincerely,
                                        _________

(Alert written by Adam J. Smith; Connecticut contact info compiled by David Borden)

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