Over 100 high-profile entertainers and other leaders have called on President Barack Obama to change drug laws and reform the criminal justice system. The group, assembled by rap mogul Russell Simmons, includes Harry Belafonte, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Lil Wayne, Ron Howard, Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Hudson, Nicki Minaj, Susan Sarandon, and Will Smith.
The letter praises Obama for his “hard work and leadership on issues affecting the unrepresented classes” and for committing to pursue alternatives to “enforcement-only ‘War on Drugs’ approach.” It adds, “the time is right” to transform the criminal justice system “to an intervention and rehabilitation based model” and stop sending non-violent offenders to jail. It calls on President Obama to form a panel to review clemency requests and allow judges to waive mandatory minimum sentences.
According to data, drug offenders comprise nearly half the federal prison population and the United States jails more of its citizens than any other nation. “It is critical that we change both the way we think about drug laws in this country and how we generate positive solutions that leave a lasting impact on rebuilding our communities,” Simmons said.
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