The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Racial Justice: Lessons from the Campaign to End the Racially Biased Marijuana Arrest Crusade in NYC

Friday, January 15, 2016 -
8:30am to 11:30am EST
Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation; 17 West 17th Street, 8th Floor (Private Exhibition & Event Space); New York, NY 10011
Members of PNY & Partner Orgs: 
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In 1977, New York decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Yet between 1995 and 2010, the NYPD made more than 530,000 arrests for low-level possession, including 50,000 in 2010 alone. The vast majority of those arrested were young people of color – even though research demonstrates that young white men are more likely to use marijuana. Marijuana possession became the top arrest charge in the city.

In 2010, advocates launched a multifaceted campaign to put pressure on the city, reform state policy and stop these arrests from ruining so many lives. Despite great odds, the campaign made marijuana arrests a major political issue in the city and state, and the issue had an indelible impact on the broader debate around racism in the criminal justice system and stop-and-frisk. The campaign has thus far succeeded in forcing the NYPD to substantially alter its practices. Today, the number of marijuana possession arrests is down by 50 percent. 

Join fellow grantmakers and funders for a discussion with the activists who built the campaign and the elected officials who championed their cause.

  • The intersection of the drug war, mass incarceration and racial justice
  • The creative and integrated advocacy tactics – from research to grassroots organizing, from policymaker education to lobbying – that made tangible social change possible despite major political challenges
  • How meaningful reforms were won without passing legislation
  • Lessons to inform your funding and grantmaking


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All interested funders.


8:30 - 9:00 AM Check-in & Light Breakfast
9:00 - 11:30 AM Program

Registration is required by January 14th.

Members:  To register yourself and/or a colleague at your organization, please log in and click the Register Now link above.

Guests of Partners: Please email with your name, title, organizational affiliation, business mailing address, and phone number.  Please indicate by which organizer you were invited. (no fee)

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