[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.
Dr. Boyce Watkins
Sean "Diddy" Combs
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip-Hop Caucus
Chuck "Jigsaw" Creekmur, AllHipHop.com