Advocates demand new approach in nation’s most incarcerated state

NEW ORLEANS, La. – On the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a “War On Drugs,” activists around the country are preparing to march for a renunciation of the policy.

The New Orleans-based Women With a Vision, in conjunction with the Drug Policy Alliance, is leading a “No More War On Drugs” parade. A community forum will follow, with organizers calling for an end to drug prohibition and mass incarceration of the non-violent offenders.

“Some anniversaries provide an occasion for celebration, others a time for reflection, still others a time for action,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

He continues, “Forty years after President Nixon declared his war on drugs, we’re seizing upon this anniversary to prompt both reflection and action. And we’re asking everyone who harbors reservations about the war on drugs — to join us in this enterprise.”

“We want to eliminate the drug war because it has been 40 years of failure,” says Cendra Williams, the Administrative Organizer for Women with a Vision.

Evidence of the failed drug war include, but are not limited to, a 2011 study from the Global Commission on Drug Policy stating the “war on drugs has failed,” citing the escalating violence in Mexico and the successful decriminalization of drugs in Portugal.

The Drug Policy Alliance has organized protests for today in 15 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, and New Orleans.

According to the Pew Center on the States, Louisiana, is the most incarcerated state in the Union. One in every 26 Louisiana adults is currently behind bars or on parole, and the incarceration rate has increased 272 percent since 1982. As of 2008, more than 30 percent of those incarcerated were arrested on drug charges.

Additionally, it costs taxpayers $39.75 to keep an inmate incarcerated for one day, as opposed to $2.70 for a paroled offender.

The event will begin at 3:00 PM Friday, June 17th at the Three Star Barber Shop at 2702 Felicity St.


Robert Ross is a researcher and social media strategist with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be contacted at, and you can follow him on twitter.