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San Francisco considers human rights impact of drug war

This Thursday, April 12th, 2012, residents of San Francisco will have an opportunity to discuss the impact of the war on drugs in the city and make recommendations as to what should be done to address it.  The San Francisco Human Rights Commission is holding a public hearing on The Human Rights Impact of the War on Drugs in City Hall room 416, at 5:30 pm to discuss the impact of drug policy on the city's individuals and families.  Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend and participate in public comment.  Also, before the hearing, in front of city hall from 4-6 pm, a Silent Action to Remember the Victims of the War on Drugs is being held. 

The hearing will include testimony from various stakeholders, ranging from arrest trends to housing and employment barriers, collateral immigration consequences, public health implications, and drug education in schools.  For a detailed description of the speakers and agenda please see here.

CJCJ will be presenting testimony specifically on a new publication released the same day, entitled San Francisco's Arrest Rates of African Americans for Drug Felonies Worsens.  The publication is the latest in a series of studies over the last decade, documenting San Francisco's drug-related arrest trends and calling for an examination of law enforcement policy related to drug offenses.  Using the most up-to-date available data, the publication details a 40+ year pattern of San Francisco's racially discriminatory arrest practices against African Americans, which recently increased in intensity.  Among its findings,

"African Americans experienced felony drug arrest rates 19 times higher than other races in San Francisco and 7.3 times higher than African Americans elsewhere in California."

These arrest trends are surprising given that San Francisco has long been a champion of human rights and anti-discrimination ideals.  If there is a reason for such racial discrepancies in San Francisco drug arrests, responsible agencies have a duty to the city's residents to disclose this information and address these trends.  The publication recommends that the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors take steps to address the underlying reasons for the impacts of law enforcement drug policy and arrest rates.  For the full publication be sure to check out CJCJ's Resource Center on April 12th.

If you have been impacted by the war on drugs in San Francisco, please attend the hearing and tell your story.  If you are unable to attend on Thursday, you can watch the hearing unfold on

Keywords: human rights, law enforcement, racial disparities, San Francisco, Selena Teji

Posted in Blog, Drug Policy

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