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ALBANY, New York — This Wednesday, elected officials, community members, civil rights and legal advocates, and drug policy reformers will join together to call for the inclusion of communities of color in Albany’s response to heroin and opioids. In the midst of the opioid crisis, lawmakers and the media have increasingly highlighted strategies that treat drug use as a public health issue. But despite the rhetoric, the overwhelming emphasis of New York drug policy remains on criminalization, which is disproportionately focused on people of color.

New York, like the rest of the country, has begun to reject criminal justice approaches to drugs amid a perception that more people who use drugs are now from white, suburban, and middle class communities. Amid this trend there has been little effort at the state level to repair the harms of the failed drug policies of the last 45 years that have devastated communities of color. New York’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws were a model for other states around the country, and a significant driver of mass incarceration, gross racial disparities, and disruption of New York families and communities.

Speakers will call on the New York State legislature and Governor Cuomo to create policies that will repair the harms associated with the drug war, in addition to ensuring an equitable distribution of public health resources to help all people in need.

WHAT: Press Conference “Prescription for Everybody’s Pain: Heroin and Communities of Color – A Time for Atonement and Action.”
WHEN: Wednesday, June 8, 2016, 1pm
WHERE: Million Dollar Staircase, New York State Capitol
State St. and Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12224

Terrell Jones, Community Leader at VOCAL New York, and Outreach and Advocacy Program Manager at NY Harm Reduction Educators

Dr. Alice Green, Executive Director, Center for Law and Justice, Albany, NY

New York State Assembly Member Charles Barron

New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake

New York State Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes (tentative)

New York State Assembly Member Diana Richardson

New York State Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez

New York State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal

New York State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson

New York State Senator Kevin Parker

New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera

New York State Senator James Sanders

Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director, Drug Policy Alliance

Legislative policy proposals include:

Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements to determine legislation’s effects on communities of color before it is enacted

Statewide clemency package to seal and vacate all marijuana-related convictions

Reform criminal drug possession statutes to decriminalize or de-felonize certain offenses

Bolster and expand Rockefeller drug law reforms

Reduce recidivism and save money by establishing Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs

Create a Statewide Nonfatal Overdose Response System

Increase funding for harm reduction services and continue their integration with the broader healthcare system

Repeal the criminal law on syringe possession and increase access syringes through pharmacies

Rewrite New York’s syringe exchange law to increase the number of providers and reduce barriers to access

Institute supervised injection facilities (SIFs) wherever needed in the state

Increase access to the medication-assisted treatment, especially by expanding buprenorphine access in low income communities of color

Allow access to methadone and buprenorphine in Department of Corrections and Community Supervision facilities

Establish a New York State Drugs Advisory Council that includes the participation of community experts and the legislature and executive to ensure common objectives and policy coordination between agencies and elected officials

Date Published: June 7, 2016
Published by Drug Policy Alliance | VOCAL-NY

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