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Fighting Against The War On Drugs

CEDAR VALLEY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) For about 40 years, the United States Government has fought the War on Drugs. It was meant to teach kids to, Just Say No to illegal substances and discourage their use with harsh prison sentences. Now, the War on Drugs Task Force says its time to rethink that national approach.

"We began our task force out of concern for the disproportionate impact that this War on Drugs is having on communities of color, said Cedar Valley Citizens for Undoing Racisms Barbara Culpepper-Scheel.

"I think we need to change the conversation in this country," said War on Drugs Task Forces Allen Hays.

The Task Force is a part of the Cedar Valley Citizens for Undoing Racism. They say their goal is to create and honest dialogue about the fact that minorities go to jail on drug-related charges much more frequently than their non-minority peers. The group says its roughly eight times as often.

"Don't expect people to get it right away necessarily. But if they start thinking about it then maybe they'll do some research and it'll make sense, said War on Drugs Task Forces Ruth Walker.

"It gets people talking and saying what they feel about it, said University of Northern Iowa Freshman Jacob Hance.

The group says the law enforcement approach in the past has been to make examples, and that makes it nearly impossible for anyone who's ever been caught to recover.

"There was that statistic about men earning 40-percent less in their lifetime just because of having that conviction, said Culpepper-Scheel.

"Any felony conviction is a life sentence, said Hays. Many employers just automatically reject an application if there's a felony conviction on them."

Those convictions could keep someone from ever landing on their feet once they leave prison.

The group says theyre not in favor of the legalization of drugs like marijuana by itself, but only as a tool to help decriminalize the possession of the drug, which they say accounts for 80% of drug arrests.
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