Wednesday, October 28, 2015

LEAP Supports Ohio Issue 3 to Legalize Marijuana


New Law Will Improve Public Safety, Reduce Justice System Burden

Today, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of police, prosecutors, judges, and other law enforcement professionals working to end marijuana prohibition, declared their support for Ohio’s Issue 3, the proposed constitutional amendment to tax and regulate marijuana in the state. The law would legalize the production, sale, and adult consumption of marijuana products in the state and permit licenses for specific distribution companies. If passed, the law would permit home cultivation of up to four flowering plants and possession and sharing of up to eight ounces by adults 21 and older with a valid state license. The new law also protects patients of any age with a doctor-certified debilitating condition by allowing safe access to regulated marijuana products.  

“Legalization will take money away from the cartels, provide funding for public safety and health services, and reduce the violence associated with the illegal drug market. Passage of  Issue Three puts us in charge, not the dealers,” said Cincinnati Police Captain Howard Rahtz (Ret.).

Ohio arrested nearly 12,000 adults for marijuana possession and distribution in 2012. Almost all of those arrests were for possession alone. While most individuals don’t serve jail time for possession alone, an arrest is a costly, damaging, and time-consuming ordeal. Marijuana arrests can cost steep fines, require defendants take time off work for court appearances, limit job and educational opportunities, and even take away rights from stable and nurturing parents. The process of an arrest is even more damaging to those in impoverished communities who often have less freedom with taking time off work, less cash for unplanned expenses, and fewer opportunities for economic mobility.

“Regulating marijuana is the only way we can be sure to keep it out of the hands of criminals, and ultimately, keep our kids and streets safer,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for LEAP. “Controlling the drug has always been the goal – we’ve just been going about it the wrong way for a very long time.”

LEAP joins Issue 3 supporters that include former Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Ohio voters will make a decision on November 3rd, 2015. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Press Release: LEAP ED Neill Franklin Part of Law Enforcement Leaders, Top Cops and Prosecutors for Criminal Justice Reform


Top Police and Prosecutors Declare Need for Criminal Justice Reform

Washington D.C. – Today, more than 130 top police and prosecutors from all 50 U.S. states, including LEAP executive director Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) are holding a conference to launch a new group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration (LELRCI). The group is releasing a report explaining their mission: to reduce crime and improve public safety by reducing needless incarceration and harmful mandatory minimum sentences, and improving access to rehabilitation services for those with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. They propose de-felonizing minor crimes as California has done with Prop. 47, and ultimately, strengthening community-police relations.

"As our nation's top police and prosecutors reflect back on their careers, we have come to understand that many of the so-called tough-on-crime principles to which many of us gave our lives are flat-out wrong," said Major Franklin. "We can reduce crime and incarceration at the same time, but to do that we need alternatives to arrest, balance in our laws, and continued improvement in community relations. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is honored to be a part of distinguished group."  

Unnecessary incarceration taxes public coffers and law enforcement resources as well as furthering economic and racial inequality and lessening life opportunities for millions, who become more likely to re-offend in the future. $80 billion is spent on incarceration in the U.S. every year; a cost reform advocates say would be better spent on rehabilitation, job training, and education. Drug laws continue to be a root cause of mass incarceration and places severe social and economic consequences on individuals and communities, particularly those of color. Overly punitive drug enforcement and the prioritization of drug cases over violent crimes since the drug war began in 1971 has contributed to the U.S. holding more prisoners per capita than any other nation.

Please contact Darby Beck at for a special access code to view the launch event being held at the National Press Club Wednesday from 12:30-2pm ET.

LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have wreaked havoc on public safety, damaged community relations with police, fostered corruption and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction. The War on Drugs has cost more than $1 trillion dollars, yielded no positive outcomes, and has ultimately diverted the penal system’s attention away from more important crimes.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Press Release: Bipartisan Criminal Justice Bill Introduced in Senate

For Immediate Release:                                                            
Thursday, October 1, 2015                                                                                


New Legislation Focuses on Reducing Recidivism and Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Offenses, New Early Release Programs, Increasing Judicial Discretion
Washington D.C. – Today, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate announced a sweeping criminal justice reform bill to address mass incarceration. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led the cooperative effort that, if passed, would reduce mandatory minimum sentences, limit “Three Strikes” convictions and other determinate sentences, and expand judicial discretion. It would also increase education and job training programs, potentially reducing recidivism, among other improvements. The bill was constructed and co-sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“In an age of intense partisan conflict, it’s heartening to see lawmakers across the spectrum working together on restoring justice in this country,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals working to end the drug war. “We could reduce the impact that drug prohibition has on people of color and for so many others who have been victims of unreasonable and ineffective drug prohibition laws. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but this is a considerable step in the right direction.”
The new bill would also retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 to offenders currently serving unduly long sentences for crack cocaine. Through the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, harsh federal mandatory minimum sentences were instituted to deter drug use in an era of “tough on crime” mentality, but have recently come under fire by both the left and right for being excessively punitive, ballooning the American prison population, costing taxpayers billions, ignoring real solutions to drug abuse, and fostering racially biased enforcement practices. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act imposed a penalty for crack cocaine possession and distribution one hundred times more severe than the punishment for powder cocaine, despite the drugs being essentially identical. The ratio was reduced to 18:1 through the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, but evidence points to a racially biased sentencing disparity that has contributed to putting African American men in prison at a rate five times higher than that of white men and resulted in the U.S. housing more prisoners than any other nation. The new bill should offer hope for many who have continued to be unfairly treated by the justice system through arbitrary mandatory minimum laws even after the reforms of 2010.

Mandatory minimum laws have also severely limited discretion judges have when deciding punishment for drug cases. The new bill would offer more leeway in determining appropriate sentences based on a defendant’s individual circumstances. Other provisions in the bill include limiting solitary confinement for juveniles in federal facilities and expanding mandatory minimum categories to include cases such as interstate domestic violence.

LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have wreaked havoc on public safety, wasted significant law enforcement resources, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction. The drug war has cost nearly two trillion dollars, yielded only disastrous outcomes, and has ultimately distracted the justice system from focusing on more important crimes.
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