Last Saturday the New England Conference of United Methodist Churches, a group representing 600 congregations in six Northeastern states, voted in favor of Resolution 15-203, which uses Christian principles to call for an end to the War on Drugs.
The resolution begins:
"In the love of Christ, who came to save those who are lost and vulnerable, we urge the creation of a genuinely new system for the care and restoration of victims, offenders, criminal justice officials, and the community as a whole. Restorative justice grows out of biblical authority, which emphasizes a right relationship with God, self and community. When such relationships are violated or broken through crime, opportunities are created to make things right."
It goes on to detail how the drug war has failed to achieve its intended goal of reducing drug abuse and has resulted in numerous unintended consequences such as the creation of violent and dangerous underground markets, countless lost lives from gang violence and unregulated products, increased dangers posed to law enforcement, prison overcrowding, the rapid spread of needle-borne illnesses due to a lack of sterile syringes, and the disparate impact that these laws have had on poor communities of color.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Co-founder Lt. Jack Cole (Ret.), who, along with the group Christians Against Prohibition, worked with the assembly to pass the resolution, recounted his experience as one of warm support and appreciation, particularly from families who have been directly affected by drug prohibition.
"When I came off the stage I was met by many assembly members telling me how important the resolution was," said Lt. Cole. "One said that...I had described his family. His daughter died ten years ago of a drug overdose and he and his wife were left to raise her two children. That gentleman was sure that if drugs had been legal his daughter would not have died."
"Jesus concerned himself with the plight of the poor and marginalized in his society. In our society, the story of the poor and marginalized is one of mass incarceration, racial injustice, and the breakdown of families caused by the War on Drugs," said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of LEAP.
The statement ends with a declaration of support for LEAP and a commitment to work to regulate drugs from a public health perspective:
"Be it Resolved: That the New England Annual Conference supports seeking means other than prohibition to address the problem of substance abuse; and is further resolved to support the mission of the international educational organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) to reduce the multitude of unintended harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ending drug prohibition."
The resolution can be found here: http://www.leap.cc/united_methodist_res/
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.