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During my time as a criminal justice professional, I was reminded to adopt strategies that helped my agency to be more effective. A term we adopted is a military expression called a “force multiplier” which is “a factor that dramatically increases (hence “multiplies”) the effectiveness of an item or group.” During my journey through activism I have met an unlikely group of women who have helped forge many changes not just in California, but across our nation. These women are “force multipliers” providing a voice for the voiceless. They are mothers like I am, and they share my grief of having their families suffer the collateral consequences of the Drug War. Through their loved one’s death, addiction or incarceration they have lived through what I have. This compounded grief has helped to form effective coalitions that result in action making our nation a better place.
It was my work with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) that brought me happenstance to this group of women and the “Mom’s United to End the War on Drugs” campaign. Each Mother’s day, Mom’s issues a call to action for other women and mothers to help end the devastation of prohibition. It’s this call that has created coalitions and strategic partner’s which include a Moms and Cops coalition that helped to deliver a simple message: drug prohibition is more detrimental to our families than drugs are. This year’s call to action created a new partnership that enhances Moms and Cops by including medical professionals. This Moms and Docs partnership was highlighted in an article on the Huffington Post this week which pointed out the inevitable results of our drug laws.
About 1 in 100 American adults — 2.3 million people — are incarcerated. Nearly half of all prisoners in state prisons are locked up for a non-violent offense. Every year 10,000 Californians are convicted of felony drug possession for personal use. This is not just about lives interrupted, but lives destroyed. Incarceration leaves children without a parent in the home, and often leads to life-long exclusion from housing, employment and educational opportunities. It creates severe roadblocks to recovery and reunification. Overdose is a leading cause of accidental death in the United States. This fact alone should make us realize we need a change of direction in how we handle the problems of drug use.
“This is not just about lives interrupted, but lives destroyed. Incarceration leaves children without a parent in the home, and often leads to life-long exclusion from housing, employment and educational opportunities.”
Medical professionals have a history of activism integrating social justice and health. Yet, politicians and law enforcement overlook their role in helping design and define what the future of our drug policy should look like. LEAP, like Mom’s, has a medical professional partnership because we recognized that a collaboration between Moms, Cops and Docs provides a moral framework to “do no harm” to our families, our friends and our communities. It is the strength through partnerships such as this where our unified voices are turned into force multipliers. This gives us the ability to define how prohibition has failed America from the inside out. This failure has been magnified through a new perspective that calls for a paradigm shift in managing America’s drug problem. So today on Mother’s day, I am strengthened by those who have made my fight their fight as well; those women who are not just “force multipliers” but warriors willing to protect not just their own families, but all families. I would advise those standing in our way to take these words to heart:
“A mighty power and stronger Man from his throne has hurled, for the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand the rules the world.”
–The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules The World, William R. Wallace
Happy Mother’s Day