LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and the Drug Policy Alliance to Strategize on Drug Policy and Criminal Justice Reforms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2015

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org; Hector Sanchez, LCLAA (202) 508-6919; Jeronimo Saldana, DPA 562-644-8413

As the public outcry for police and criminal justice reform grips the nation, the Latino community has much at stake to ensure our young people and all Americans are not victimized and entrapped by a discriminatory criminal justice system. Latinos are adversely and disproportionately affected by discriminatory policing and criminal justice practices – but have not been actively involved in shaping solutions to these problems. "It is time for Latinos to add their voices to the forces of change on this critical issue." says Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice, and one of the main organizers behind this convening.

That is why LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) will convene a roundtable discussion on Latinos and the Criminal Justice System in Washington, D.C. this week. The meeting will be attended by some of the nation’s leading national Latino organizations, including MALDEF, LULAC, NCLR, and the Hispanic Federation, among many others.

“The war on drugs has wreaked havoc on our communities, both domestically and abroad” says Jerónimo Saldaña, Legislative and Organizing Coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance. Failed drug policies have produced profoundly unequal outcomes across racial and ethnic groups, manifested through discrimination by law enforcement and disproportionate drug war misery suffered by communities of color. The drug war has served to perpetuate the mass criminalization of people of color and immigrant communities.

“We have long known that Latinos are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system, but we haven’t always recognized the collateral impact of mass incarceration and criminalization on the economic well-being, health, and family life of the Latino community. Until Latino organizations across the nation engage in a coordinated effort to reform the justice system, our collective work to advance every other facet of the Latino community cannot succeed. This convening will play an important role in laying the groundwork for our efforts going forward,” said Hector Sanchez, Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.

Discussion topics will include mass incarceration, drug policy, data collection, immigration policy, criminality in Latino and immigrant communities, use of police force and the death of unarmed civilians, and policing/criminal justice reform. Additionally, Jason Hernandez, the first Latino to have his prison sentence commuted by President Obama, will attend the convening and share his story. We will also hear from Mexican, Central American and South American officials and advocates, learn how US-based groups can support their efforts, and begin devising a transnational strategy to advance global drug policy reforms that will benefit Latinos throughout the continent.

This is a closed-door, invite only meeting.

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