Russell Simmons Writes Letter To Obama Urging Him To End “The War On Drugs”

[Editor’s Note: Russell Simmons and Dr. Boyce Watkins have delivered a letter to President Obama urging him to address the damage that has been caused by increased incarceration rates and the “War on Drugs.” The letter is below and the entire plea is posted at Global Grind.]

Dear President Obama,

Your hard work and leadership on issues affecting the unrepresented classes of people in our nation have served as an inspiration to many of us who hope for brighter futures for all Americans. In that spirit, we believe the time is right to revise our national policies on the criminal justice system and move from a suppression-based model to one that focuses on intervention and rehabilitation.

Mr. President, you have demonstrated a commitment to pursue alternatives to the enforcement-only “War on Drugs” approach and address the increased incarceration rates for non-violent crimes. Your administration has moved in the right direction by committing increased funds to drug prevention and treatment programs and supporting state and local re-entry grants. I encourage you to continue your efforts to revamp the policies of the last 30 years that have seen the prison population skyrocket.

The greatest victims of the prison industrial complex are our nation’s children.  Hundreds of thousands of children have lost a parent to long prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses, leaving these children to fend for themselves. Many of these children end up in the criminal justice system, which comes as no surprise as studies have shown the link between incarceration and broken families, juvenile delinquency, violence and poverty.

Mr. President, we are a coalition of concerned advocates that is ready to support you in innovative criminal justice reform and implementing alternatives to incarceration.  As you set in motion research and policy to combat this societal crisis, this coalition is poised to help you make the transition successful.  Some of the initial policies we recommend are to apply the Fair Sentencing Act retroactively so that those sentenced under the 100-to-1 crack-to-powder disparity receive sentences that are more consistent with the magnitude of the offense.

Click here to read the entire letter, and outline of the movement at Global Grind.

Russell Simmons
Dr. Boyce Watkins

Sean “Diddy” Combs
Rosario Dawson
John Forte
Tyrese Gibson
Sanaa Lathan
John Legend
Ryan Leslie
Angie Martinez
Samantha Ronson
Teyana Taylor
Denise Vasi
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip-Hop Caucus
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur,

Click here to read the whole 200+ list of supporters

  • Russell’s a good dude, one of the few left I actually respect. At least he’s making an effort.

  • Big ups to Russel Simmons. It’s About time to end this insanity.
    Imprisoning people doesn’t solve any problems.
    And with the Bush administration rather investing in building
    prisons rather than funding schools, shows the direction things
    are supposed to go. There is not a big margin on selling books.
    But there is a big margin on building prisons. Construction,
    Weapons, Security equipment.
    The tax payer is supposed to pay taxes for prisons and wars
    overseas, but at the same time the taxpayer’s children are
    not able to get proper education.

    Only in America.

    People need to start understanding. The government is
    supposed to serve the people(taxpayers). Not anybody

    • Real Spill!

    • DJ7

      Sounds too much like right on my brotha b.u.t. unfortunately we all know that’s not gonna happen…TODAY’S REALITY won’t let it, too many folks depend on confusion to survive….We can’t even get a true dialog about race relations in this country without the other side trying to dictate to us our own plight….Never fret tho, our time is coming so be prepared b.u.t. also keep in mind, it’s not coming w/out a price tag/blood shed….that’s just reality G!!

      • Slaughtr

        That’s what I’m talking about and to add -What makes Russell think the system cares alot of you hip hop niggaz have contributed to the mindset of youth for decades and to think Obama cares ,look at the tax increase on the everyday wor horse individual,look sat hoew Obama does not give a fck about the working class.Keep being fooled and tricked into believing the devil because they are not white all the time.I’m all for uplifting our race but untill I can catch a cab without fear that i’ll kill em because I’m nubian then we can start to talk.Far as I’m concerned the black wealthy continue to horn swoogle the public into believing they are so humanitarian BS.The pretenders speak again.

  • TimeWillTellu1

    I agree and there argument you’ll hear is they cant afford both prisons and rehabilitation centers.

  • Bumpy Johnson

    Instead of a war on poverty,
    they got a war on drugs ,
    so the police can bother me, —-MAKAVELLI THE DON

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    I appreciate the attempt but obama aint concerned with that…..the PIC is bringing in way too much money…the gvmt wants all undesirables off the street and slaving for them period….I recently saw a show about a prison in the midwest that runs a tilapia farm and these mufukkas put the local farmers smooth out of business….the numbers they reported were ridiculous. question is where is all that cash going???

    • ItGoesDownINtheDM

      ha ha i seen that too the prison complex is making walmart like moves killing the small business owner ….

  • Reblogged this on wordpress blog and commented:
    Alas someone in the entertainment industry who is using their brains

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  • ItGoesDownINtheDM

    all i gotta say is whatever happen to common sense 🙁

  • The Cold Harsh Truth

    So to those against the war on drugs, what do you propose as an alternate solution(s)? I see people that say jails don’t work and this that and the other. So would you prefer that the people pushing the drugs, regardless of quantity, stay on the streets? I think it’s silly to even try to rationalize a balanced approach in delivering a sentence on drugs. Me, if you do the crime, do whatever time is thrown your way. People say, what about the kids? I say the same thing. What about the kids? What do we do with them because evidently the parent selling the drug(s) wasn’t smart enough to think about the repercussions of the drug dealing actions, like getting robbed, shot (and possibly killed), or getting arrested and going to jail/prison. I feel sorry for the kids but at the same time, would I want a parent to stay out of jail for the sake of their kids but still be free to continue their deviant ways of polluting their neighborhood? Nope. Not one bit. Unless these people are 4 years of age or younger, they know right from wrong. Shoot, my nephew who is 2 knows right from wrong. So, I don’t have one iota of pity for none of the people who get put behind bars for dealing. Lock ’em up and throw away the key. Spare the other families who may get torn apart from drug-addicted parents and/or children.


      if drugs were legal, taxed and regulated, drug dealers lose their jobs and we buy our weed at walgreens or whatever…when alcohol prohibition ended the gangsters stopped fighting over distribution….same would happen with drugs

      • greenhouse records

        true. The Powers that be know this but it is all “politics”.

    • You have a point but the War on Drugs ain’t just targetin the dealers, you also gotta take into consideration the percentage of inmates who are nonviolent drug users and bein tossed into the same space as murderers and rapists…and bein treated as if they were murderers and rapists themselves. All in the name of keepin that money flowin. Rehab is where they belong, not prison. Addiction’s a medical issue, not a legal one. Problem is, makin it a medical issue takes bodies out the cells and money out people’s pockets, and we all know they ain’t tryin to hear NO parts of that…

  • Q.

    A) Rahm Emanuel is closing 50+ schools in Chicago, affecting mostly inner-city kids.

    B) The hottest rappers in Chicago are promoting gangbanging, drug-dealing, and murder.

    C) Illinois is opening a new SuperMax prison.

    Connect the dots.

    • See…but fools call ya crazy when you try and put em up on game that this is what’s BEEN goin on. That’s why when that letter came out awhile back about the alleged secret meeting of the music execs, I had no choice but to believe there had to be SOME sort of truth to it, even if it wasn’t entirely true. I’d be a fool to think otherwise cuz the evidence is right there in front of our faces if we’d just take the time to open our eyes and LOOK.

      • DJ 7

        It happened G….just as the letter stated

      • Oh I know fam, trust and believe. Y’know how it is though in this internet age, gotta be skeptical about everything at first.

  • duh boy

    wat! the economy depends on our dumb asses. The only reason this country doesnt collapse completely is because we keep it afloat…dont believe me…everyone workn in the criminal justice system is getting paid because of crime. wat will all those poor lawyers, district attornys, court stenographers, bailiffs, prison guards do without us.

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  • Rush Card anyone?

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