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A criminal justice system that is honest, fair and effective is one of America's most important institutions. The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation is a private, non-profit educational organization that promotes solutions to the problems facing the criminal justice system. Learn more about CJPF

Read about 11 Ways the War on Drugs is Hurting Your Business (click here for the citations).

New Blog Post

Eric Sterling posted reflections on his friendship with the recently deceased Sasha Shulgin, a legend in the world of psychopharmacology.

CJPF News & Activities

CJPF is accepting internship applications for the fall 2014 term. More information is available here.

CJPF's Winter 2013-2014 newsletter is here.

On June 17th, Eric Sterling gave a live 20-minute interview on WSHC radio on the House's vote to defund federal raids on state-legal medical marijuana businesses.

On June 3, Eric E. Sterling spoke to the Beltsville Rotary Club in Beltsville, MD. Eric spoke about the war on drugs and the effects on prison population, and advocated for a new approach.

CJPF President Eric E. Sterling talks about naloxone access and the importance of harm reduction in this video produced in May 2014.

On May 4, Eric E. Sterling was quoted in the Chattanooga Times Free Press regarding new clemency initiatives and recent statements and actions (pardons, commutations, and indications there may be more) by the Obama Administration.

On May 3, Eric E. Sterling was quoted, and CJPF's work was mentioned, in a Debra J. Saunders article about the work by many different organizations leading to Clarence Aaron's eventual commutation and release from prison. 

On May 2, Debra J. Saunders wrote in the San Francisco Article about the extensive and successful efforts to get Clarence Aaron (and others in similar situations) from prison. Eric E. Sterling is quoted on page 4 regarding CJPF's efforts to free Dorothy Gaines from prison in 2000. 

On April 22, Eric E. Sterling was quoted in an article on The Wire, an online news magazine. The article dealt with the beginning of the "tough on crime" mandatory minimum sentencing, and can be found here.

On April 21, Eric E. Sterling was a guest on the Diane Rehm Show, broadcast on NPR nationally. More information on the show can be found here. A recording of the broadcast is available here.

On April 19, Eric E. Sterling spoke at the opening of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference. More information is available here.

On April 5, Eric E. Sterling participated in the Americans for Safe Access conference in Washington D.C. Sterling spoke about the legal issues surrounding medical marijuana and recent developments around the country. A press release for the event is available here and more information is available here.

Eric E. Sterling discusses how the war on drugs has negative economic ramifications in this short video produced by CJPF on April 4.

On April 4, an article about Eric E. Sterling's speech at Drexel Law appeared in The Triangle, the independent newspaper at Drexel University.

On March 24, Eric E. Sterling spoke at Drexel Law School regarding contradictions in marijuana policy, as well as the complicated legal issues that have arisen given recently changing policies. The event was sponsored and promoted by the Health Law Society at the law school. An article about the event is available here.

On March 23, Al Jazeera America published an article looking at how drug laws were passed in America following the death of Len Bias in the 1980's. Eric E. Sterling is quoted extensively regarding his work as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee.

On March 23, Eric E. Sterling published a letter in the Washington Post regarding necessary fixes in mandatory senencing guidelines. Sterling drew on his experience as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee at the time when the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 was written.

On March 7, Brandon Levey published a letter to the editor in the New York Times regarding the recent bipartisan effort to make changes in sentencing policy. The letter can be found here.

On March 6, Eric E. Sterling spoke at a community meeting in College Park, MD, organized by the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland and Students for Sensible Drug Policy at the University of Maryland. Eric spoke about recent national and state developments regarding policy changes in medical and recreational marijuana laws. A Diamondback news story about the event quoting Eric is available here.

On February 7, Eric E. Sterling was quoted in a Reason Magazine online op-ed by Jacob Sullum, a regular columnist to the site. The op-ed dealt with the possibility of the reclassification of marijuana to a lower Schedule. Sterling talked about the feasibility and complications of doing this. The op-ed can be found here.

CJPF President Eric E. Sterling discusses how the war on drugs is harmful to national security in this short YouTube video produced by CJPF (February 2014).

On January 28, Eric E. Sterling was mentioned in the Baltimore Sun in a cover story about medical marijuana in Maryland. Sterling said that fears that the Federal Government might attempt to stop Maryland's medical marijuana program might not be warranted, as this has never happened since California first legalized medical marijuana in 1996.

On January 23 2014, the cover story of the Baltimore Jewish Times discussed medical marijuana in Maryland, specifically the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission. Eric E. Sterling was quoted extensively regarding the Commission's work and the potential medicinal benefits of marijuana. 

On December 23, Eric E. Sterling was mentioned in the San Francisco Chronicle in a column by Debra J. Saunders regarding the commutation of Clarence Aaron. The column discusses why this commutation took so long to occur. CJPF has been involved in working to publicize this case for years, along with many other organizations.

On December 20, Eric E. Sterling wrote in the Huffington Post about the commutations recently granted by President Obama, including the commutation of Clarence Aaron. Sterling related this to Obama's eulogy at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, and argued that these "minimal acts of mercy," while welcome, are not enough, and more needs to be done.

On December 18, Eric E. Sterling debated Kevin Sabet on "By America with Jorge Ramos," broadcast on Fusion TV. Among other issues, Eric spoke about why Americans want legalization of marijuana.  A partial recording is available here. 

On December 15, Eric E. Sterling wrote on the Huffington Post Blog about Richard Feldman's comments on how to reduce gun violence. Sterling argues that ending drug prohibition would disincentivize criminals to use guns and commit acts of violence. 

On November 21, Eric E. Sterling published a copy of "11 Ways the War on Drugs is Hurting Your Business" on Alternet.com. 11 Ways is produced by the Business Council for Safety and Prosperity.  

On November 21, CJPF President Eric E. Sterling wrote about the death of his friend and colleague, Edward H. Jurith, in the Huffington Post. Jurith has been a key figure in American drug policy-making since the 1980's, and Eric has interacted and worked with him in many different capacities.

 On November 7, Eric E. Sterling was quoted in a column by Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle (versions of the column appeared in other newspapers as well). The column discusses former NYC Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who has completed his prison sentence and now is speaking out against mandatory minimum sentences. Eric was quoted saying that this is not unusual, as being in prison gives people a first-hand glimpse into the human toll of mandatory minimum excesses.

On November 5 at 7:00 PM, Eric E. Sterling attended a screening of "How to Make Money Selling Drugs," a movie he is featured in, and participated in a guest panel with Neill Franklin, the Executive Director of LEAP immediately after. This event was sponsored by REACT to Film at American University. More information is available here. 

On November 4 at 6:30 PM, Eric E. Sterling spoke to the newly-formed Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Eric spoke about recent developments regarding marijuana legalization, and what comes next. More information is available here.

On November 3 from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM, Eric E. Sterling participated in, and spoke at, a "Teach-In" at the Unitarian Society of Germantown in Philadelphia, PA. The topic of the "Teach-In" was "Mass Incarceration is the Civil Rights issue of our time." 

On October 15, Eric E. Sterling wrote in the Huffington Post about the potentially groundbreaking new regulations in New Zealand regulating synthetic substances, regulations that are based around a "harm reduction" type approach.

On October 5, Eric E. Sterling spoke at Boston University at the Strategic National Conference on Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs. Eric was the opening plenary speaker on October 5th. The conference was sponsored by the Center on Church and Prison. Eric's speech provided guidance on sentencing reform, and he spoke about the recent major developments. 

On September 16, CJPF President Eric E. Sterling was a featured guest on a live segment of "General News," a show hosted by Mike Walter and broadcast on CCTV-America. Sterling discussed the tragedy at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard that occurred earlier that day. A link to the segment is available here.

CJPF President Eric E. Sterling has been appointed by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to the 12-member Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission, which begins on October 1, 2013. Eric will be serving a four year term and will be carrying out this law (HB 1101), which was signed into law on May 2.

On September 9, Eric E. Sterling was quoted on the website of the Government Executive magazine about new revelations that the D.E.A. has been spying on Americans. Sterling writes that this unchecked surveillance has huge dangers that vastly outweigh any benefits, and has large potential free speech implications.

On August 29, Eric E. Sterling wrote in the Huffington Post about the announcement that the U.S. Justice Department will not attempt to stop the recreational marijuana programs in Washington and Colorado, enacted by voters in 2012. A copy of the memorandum is here.

On August 28, Eric E. Sterling was interviewed on the final episode of Culture Shocks Radio (broadcast August 29th). Sterling addressed the racial disparities in federal drug prosecutions, problems in policing, and recent developments in criminal justice policy. 

On August 27, Eric E. Sterling's apology to Gil Kerlikowske was praised by Keith Humphreys, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stanford University, on "Reality Based Community," a blog organized by Mark Kleiman, PhD, Professor of Public Policy at UCLA School of Public Affairs.

On August 26, Eric E. Sterling was quoted in the Washington Post in an article about Mexican drug cartel activity in the U.S. Sterling offers an explanation for why a National Drug Intelligence Center report may have overstated the number of U.S. cities in which cartels are operating.

On August 19, Eric E. Sterling was quoted in the Metro Section of the Washington Post, commenting about racial disparities not only on the national level but also on the local level in Montgomery County, Maryland. CJPF is located in Montgomery County.

On August 16, Eric E. Sterling apologized on Huffington Post for his erroneous critical comments about the record of ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske in his earlier post about Kerlikowske's nomination to be Commissioner of Customs. Sterling highlighted Kerlikowske's substantial initiatives in public health and embrace of harm reduction.

On August 14, Eric E. Sterling was interviewed on "Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane,"  WHYY-Philadelphia (an NPR affiliate) program. He spoke about Attorney General Eric Holder's August 12 speech to the American Bar Association lamenting "mass incarceration" and criticizing the disparities and fairness of some federal mandatory minimum sentences. Here is a link to the audio file of the show.

On August 14, Eric E. Sterling was quoted extensively in Reason Online regarding Attorney General Eric Holder's plan to reform parts of the criminal justice system. This was included in the November 2013 print edition.

On August 12, Eric E. Sterling was quoted in a Salon Article about how mandatory minimum sentencing began.

On August 12, the Atlantic Wire quoted a 1999 interview by Eric E. Sterling in This American Life to discuss how the war on drugs and "war on crime" is changing.

On August 2nd, President Barack Obama nominated Gil Kerlikowske, the Director of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy, otherwise known as the "Drug Czar," to be the Customs Commissioner in the Department of Homeland Security. Eric E. Sterling wrote in the Huffington Post about Kerlikowske's tenure as the head of ONDCP. [On August 16, published an apology for his erroneously critical comments.]

On July 15, Eric E. Sterling conducted a featured AMA ("Ask Me Anything") on Reddit.com. Eric discussed many topics, including his experience writing drug laws for the U.S. Congress, how this experience affects him now, and what CJPF has been working on. Link here.

On July 11, Eric E. Sterling spoke to the Bethesda (Md.) Metro Rotary Club at a breakfast meeting. Eric spoke about the legalization of marijuana.

On June 18, Eric E. Sterling decried on the Huffington Post the increasing racial disparities in federal crack cocaine prosecutions since 2009. Sterling argues that a 2010 Congressional change to eliminate some of these disparities has not been positively reflected in the actions of the Obama Administration. This post was featured on the front page of the Huffington Post.

On June 14, Eric E. Sterling submitted eight recommendations to the Task Force on Over-Criminalization of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives. Key issues addressed included excessive punishment and revising federal drug laws. A copy of his statement is available here.

On June 12, Eric E. Sterling spoke to the George Washington University Police Science program about drug policy. Sterling answered the questions of police officers about how legalizing drugs might work.

On June 5, Eric E. Sterling was quoted in USA Today about reports that the DEA is again using an informant who was deactivated in 2000 for giving false testimony under oath. Sterling called this "outrageous" and "inexcusable." 

Check out CJPF's May newsletter here!

On May 6, Eric E. Sterling spoke at the University of Maryland. The event was titled "Entheogens: Sacred Psychedelic Spirituality," and he accompanied Rabbi James Kahn, the Director of Jewish Engagement and Chaplaincy for the Jewish Social Service Agency. The event was hosted by the Students for Sensible Drug Policy Chapter.

On May 4, Eric E. Sterling was interviewed on "The Boston Pot Report," an internet radio program hosted by Keith Saunders and Cara Crabb-Burnham. Eric discussed how the use of marijuana by the Boston Marathon bombers (the Tsarnaev brothers) was seen by their peers as evidence of their normality and assimilation into American culture, and how the media affirmed that sense in its reporting. He concludes that this is a milestone in understanding how normative marijuana use among young Americans and therefore how wrong it is to punish such behavior following publication of his Huffington Post article on this topic.

On May 3, Eric E. Sterling wrote in the Huffington Post about how the media has portrayed the marijuana use of the Tsarnaev brothers, or the "Boston Bombers." Sterling writes about how marijuana use has become normalized, and was evidence of the brothers' normalcy, rather than a sign of deviant behavior. 

On April 25, CJPF President Eric E. Sterling spoke on a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival after the premiere of "How to Make Money Selling Drugs," in which he is featured. This documentary takes a look at all levels of the process of the drug market, and makes a powerful statement about the problems inherent in the "war on drugs."  More information is available here. 

On April 17, CJPF President Eric E. Sterling spoke to the Delta Sigma Theta sorority at George Washington University following a showing of the movie, 10 Rules for Dealing with the Police. He discussed police practices, drug enforcement, and the history of drug laws.

On April 1, CJPF President Eric E. Sterling was featured in the Huffington Post, in a column titled "Crucifying the Other." Sterling writes about the dehumanization of those regarded as "the other," a categorization that those with drug abuse problems are often placed in. If society and policymakers do not see the humanity in "the other," policies excluding them from society can be justified. Sterling writes that this attitude has a dark precedent in world history.

On April 1, CJPF President Eric E. Sterling was quoted in an opinion piece by Roger Stark on KSL.com. Sterling's commentary on the Shafer Commission was analyzed. Stark, a licensed addiction counselor, writes about some of the ramifications of the "war on drugs," a war that he says we "aren't winning." 

On March 21, CJPF President Eric E. Sterling was featured in the Huffington Post, writing about the 40-year anniversary of the Shafer Commission ("National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse") report. Sterling talks about how this report, authorized by President Nixon, was "ahead of its time," issuing recommendations that recommended a rethinking of how we deal with drugs and drug abuse. Sadly, the report was ignored by President Nixon. 

On March 15, Eric E. Sterling was a guest on "Time4Hemp," an internet radio show broadcasted on American Freedom Radio. Eric talked about the recent national and international developments in marijuana policy. The show was jointly hosted by regular host Casper Leitch and guest host Michael Krawitz, the Executive Director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. The segment will be available for free download here.

On March 13, Eric E. Sterling spoke at the Symposium of the Cardozo Public Policy, Law and Ethics Journal at Cardozo Law School (Yeshiva University) in New York City. Eric was on a panel titled "Alternatives to Prohibition." More information on the symposium is available here.

Check out what CJPF has been up to in the past few months here in our February 2013 newsletter.

On February 21, Eric E. Sterling spoke at the University of Miami about the economic costs of drug prohibition and the recent developments in marijuana law reform. The event was collaboratively sponsored by the chapters of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Florida International University and the University of Miami.

On February 16, Eric E. Sterling spoke to a standing room crowd of over 100 participants at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. The program, hosted by Young Americans for Liberty, was called "Let's Talk About Drugs," and included Nick Gillespie of www.reason.tv and Mike Riggs of www.reason.com. Sterling addressed the status of current drug policy reform efforts after Colorado and Washington. Panelists were also asked to what they would tell their Grandma to convince her that the libertarian approach to drug policy was correct. Sterling noted the adverse consequences of our drug policy for her and Grandpa's investment portfolio (see his article on Forbes.com on the cost to investors) and on the development and availability of medicines that could help her and Grandpa, and their friends. He added that the values of self-respect and respect for others that she has always taught are undermined by the coercion intrinsic in drug prohibition, and the ideology that its supporters embrace. Sterling concluded that successful drug reform will require Congress to repeal the Controlled Substances Act and abolish the Drug Enforcement Administration. This will require a non-partisan approach, probably led by the business community, and that young libertarians are probably the best positioned advocates to make the case to those critical allies. [Come back soon for some photographs of the event.]

On February 7, Eric E. Sterling spoke to 22 lawyers who were guests of the United States participating in the International Visitor Leadership Program of the U.S. State Department about American law, the survival of inequality in our legal system such as federal crack cocaine enforcement, and his role in the political activism that reduced those inequalities with enactment the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. Participants included judges, prosececutors and attorneys from Albania, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Greece, Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe, who asked him about legalization of marijuana and other drugs, among a number of issues.

In the January 2013 issue of Managed Care, a magazine that covers that branch of the healthcare industry, Eric E. Sterling's comments are reported in an article expressing doubt that even in states with legal medical marijuana health insurance plans would cover bona fide medical marijuana due to the federal ban on using marijuana in medicine.

On January 22 2013, Eric E. Sterling spoke to a law school clinical class in Community Justice at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. Sterling gave each student his comments on their papers and oral arguments regarding their mock advocacy before an agency on behalf of a mock client proposing regulatory responses to implement a state marijuana legalization law.


Robert Charles Silver

The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation notes with sadness the death on January 15, of Robert Charles Silver, one of the founding trustees. Bob Silver, a distinguished Naval aviator and Boston attorney, provided important legal work in the establishment of the foundation and offered keen guidance and support to the foundation for twenty-three years.

Bob was an alumnus of Columbia College and Harvard Law School, class of 1960. In 1987 he earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from Boston University. Bob was deeply committed to social service and was a member of the boards of the New England Home for Little Wanderers (a large Boston-based social service agency) and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

We offer our condolences to his family and many friends, and will miss his cheerful and incisive contributions.


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