May 5, 2008

II. Recommendations

Human Rights Watch urges public officials in the United States:

  • To adopt community-based sanctions and other alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenders;
  • To put more resources into substance abuse treatment (making it available in the community and in prison to all who need it) and prevention outreach;
  • To increase investments in community educational, economic, health, and social programs;
  • To eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for all drug offenses;
  • To adopt public health-based strategies to reduce the harms associated with drug abuse;
  • To conduct a comprehensive analysis of racial disparities in all phases of drug law enforcement-from arrests through incarceration-and to bring stakeholders together to devise ways to ensure drug laws and their enforcement do not disproportionately burden black communities;
  • To enact legislation that, in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, prohibits policies or practices in the criminal justice system that have either
    • the purpose of restricting the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the basis of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin; or
    • the effect of restricting the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the basis of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin; and
  • Pending enactment of such legislation, to eliminate anti-drug policies or practices that have
    • the purpose of discriminating against blacks, or
    • the effect of discriminating against blacks

in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.