Cory Booker on Drugs



Minorities imprisoned for drugs at 6 times rate for whites

More than 60 percent of the prison population is comprised of racial and ethnic minorities. This is driven by wide disparities in arrests and incarceration. Even though blacks and Latinos engage in drug offenses at a rate no different than whites, blacks are incarcerated at a rate six times greater than whites, and Latinos are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of whites for the same offenses. The incarceration rate of Native Americans is 38 percent higher than the national rate. Latinos account for 17 percent of the U.S. population, but 22 percent of the U.S. incarcerated population. And, blacks make up only 13 percent of the total U.S. population, but 37 percent of the U.S. prison population. Today, we have more black men in prison or under state or federal supervision than were enslaved in 1850.7
Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 9 , Apr 28, 2015

End mandatory sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders

I reintroduced the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015, bipartisan legislation that would enact meaningful sentencing reforms that would make our federal sentencing policy fairer, smarter, and more cost-effective. It would reduce harsh mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenders, which is the single largest factor in the growth of the federal prison population. If we want our prison population to decrease, we must reduce mandatory minimums.

The bill would expand the federal "safety valve," which returns discretion in sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses back to federal judges. It would allow persons convicted under the pre-2010 crack cocaine laws to receive reduced sentences, a change needed to make crack cocaine penalties more in line with powder cocaine penalties. Crack and powder cocaine are pharmacologically the same. The Smarter Sentencing Act would reduce these sentences and save our country $229 million over the next 10 years.

Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 10-1 , Apr 28, 2015

The drug war is an abject failure

As homicides surge in the city he governed for seven years, Booker said he's looking at several programs to overhaul the US criminal justice system and end the war on drugs, which he said fuels much of the violence.

"I can say as a mayor who has been fighting on the front lines for years, the drug war is an abject failure," Booker said. "It's consumed egregious amounts of taxpayers' dollars. It hasn't achieved the public-safety aims of our streets, it's consumed human potential, it is a massive government overreach."

He said the real answer to fighting crime is addressing poverty and poor education. "All of these things are things we should be working collaboratively on," Booker said.

Source: Newark Star-Ledger on 2014 New Jersey Senate race , Jan 1, 2014

The war on drugs has failed; support medical marijuana

Newark Mayor Cory Booker took to Reddit Sunday to criticize the war on drugs, saying it was ineffective and "represents big overgrown government at its worst."

The Democrat wrote during the Reddit "ask me anything" chat: "The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence. We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential."

Booker then called drug arrests a "game": "My police in Newark are involved in an almost ridiculous game of arresting the same people over and over again and when you talk to these men they have little belief that there is help or hope for them to break out of this cycle," he wrote.

Booker has said he supports medical marijuana, and outlined programs he has implemented to lower drug arrests: reentry, court reform, jobs, treatment and legal aid.

Source: Huffington Post, "Cory Booker & Drug War" , Jul 16, 2012

Never attracted to drink and drugs, even as teenager

In a city not known for its salad bars, Booker is an anomaly, and his vegetarian diet is only part of it. He has no known vices or addictions (except books--a friend once joked that Booker's crack den was Barnes and Noble); drink and drugs have never held any allure. During high school, friends would offer him money just to see him take a sip of beer.

In mission and temperament, Booker is the quintessential designated driver. "TV, food, alcohol, sex--they're all things we can fill our lives with that can distract us from our purpose," he says. "I was one of those kids who wanted to be a good kid," he notes.

Source: Oprah Magazine on 2013 N.J. Senate race , Sep 1, 2010

Community courts for minor crimes like drug possession

Community courts zero in on low-level crime--offenses like vandalism, shoplifting, minor drug possession--and combine punishment and help. In the community court, instead of fines many people can't pay or short jail terms that do them no good, quality-of-life offenders will be sentenced to visible community service throughout the City and referred to drug treatment, job training, adult education, counseling and other services. Research suggests that this problem-solving approach to justice works: community courts in other cities have helped reduce crime while improving public trust and involvement in the justice system. I am so proud of the collaborative effort.
Source: 2009 State of the City Address at Newark Symphony Hall , Feb 9, 2009

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Other big-city mayors on Drugs: Cory Booker on other issues:

Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)

Former Mayors:
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
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Page last updated: Dec 31, 2015