When Leaders Do What Is Right We Should Thank Them

Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2000
Subject: When Leaders Do What Is Right We Should Thank Them

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PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE
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When Leaders Do What Is Right We Should Thank Them

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PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE
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DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 177 July 11, 2000

President Clinton has commuted the prison sentences of four women;
Louise House, Shawndra Mills, Amy Pofahl and Serena Nunn; who were
convicted of drug crimes but received much harsher sentences than men
involved in the cases. This presents a rare opportunity to praise for
doing the right thing. Below is a sample letter to President Clinton.
Please consider sending your own letter.

Robert Field of Common Sense for Drug Policy wrote, in response to the
sample letter:

I am delighted to read Tom’s letter (below) of praise to President
Clinton for more than the obvious reason.

As I was discussing with a board member yesterday, now that our
movement has matured and is becoming a major political force, it is
very important that we be able to change hats from guerrilla warriors
to establishment players.

Oh, we will still need to be outspoken on our condemnation of abuses.
But the only way we will ever accomplish much is to be able to form
coalitions, flex political muscle, educate, reason with those in power
who are receptive to incremental change, and help guide and modify
their proposals and programs so that they are more consistent with
what we desire to accomplish.

Some of us are attracted to movements because it is our disposition to
be rebels. There is an important place for such people and without
what my rabbi calls “prophets” the world would be without vital critics.

Others can both see the wrongs and appreciate the progress is made
incrementally and by consensus, through give and take. They also
recognize that politics indeed make for strange bedfellows (the recent
forfeiture reforms comes to mind) and they are less interested in
finding reform soul mates than in achieving alliances towards bringing
about specific reforms – medical marijuana, decrim of marijuana,
lessening or mandatory minimums, legalization of syringe exchanges,
expansion of methadone availability, treatment in place of
incarceration or examples.

I hope Tom’s letter is symbolic of a movement that is achieving
prominence and is confident and pragmatic enough not limit its
potential by taking “all or nothing” stands.

Robert Field

Although Letters to the Editor are also appropriate, we are asking you
to send a letter to the White House to encourage more of the same –
release drug war prisoners serving these unbelievable mandatory
minimum sentences.

Organizations which have taken the lead on this issue
include:

Families Against Mandatory Minimums:
http://www.famm.org/

The November Coalition:
http://www.november.org/

Human Rights and the Drug War:
http://hr95.org/

Jubilee Justice 2000: http://www.jubileejustice.org/

Other articles about this release:

US: 4 Women Granted Clemency By Clinton URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n957/a08.html

US MN: Clinton Commutes Federal Drug Sentence Of Minneapolis Woman
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n956/a04.html

US: Women Freed By Clinton From ‘Harsh’ Sentences:
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n959/a03.html

WRITE A LETTER TODAY

It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do

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PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID ( Letter,
Phone, fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlet@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org Your letter will then
be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts
and be motivated to follow suit

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.

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CONTACT INFO

Email:
president@whitehouse.gov

Email via the White House webform: http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/Mail/html/Mail_President.html

Mail:
President William Clinton
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington DC 20500

EXTRA CREDIT

Let your Senators and Representative know what you think about
mandatory minimums:

Contact your Senators:
http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index.cfm

Contact your Representative:
http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Or bulk email them all: http://usa.letterstoleaders.com/

Plus a letter to the editor of your local newspapers is always
appropriate. Find the email addresses here: http://www.mapinc.org/resource/email.htm

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ARTICLE

Pubdate: Sun, 09 Jul 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company
Contact: letters@nytimes.com
Address: 229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 556-3622
Website: http://www.nytimes.com/
Forum: http://www10.nytimes.com/comment/

CLINTON COMMUTES 4 WOMENS SENTENCES

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Clinton has commuted the prison sentences
of four women who were convicted of drug crimes but received much
harsher sentences than men involved in the cases, a White House
spokesman said Sunday.

“The president felt they had served a disproportionate amount of
time,” said spokesman Jake Siewert. “They received much more severe
sentences than their husbands and boyfriends.”

The women freed under Friday’s order were Louise House, Shawndra
Mills, Amy Pofahl and Serena Nunn.

One man, Alain Orozco, also was ordered freed after serving time on a
drug conviction.

“I thought they were joking with me at first,” Nunn told ABC News,
which first reported on the commutations. “After I realized it was
actually happening, I began to tremble and one of the staff members
asked me if I wanted to take a seat. Right after that, the tears just
started flowing.”

Authorities said Nunn was convicted after being drawn into a
Minneapolis drug ring by her boyfriend, but received a stiff 14-year
sentence after refusing to inform on him. She served 10 years before
her release.

The federal judge who sentenced her lobbied the White House for her
early release.

“I frankly have never written a letter to the president before asking
that one of my sentences by commuted,” U.S. District Judge David Doty
told ABC News. “Ms. Nunn was obviously guilty of a crime, but a crime
that did not deserve the penalty the court was required to impose
under the sentencing guidelines.”

He referred to guidelines imposed by Congress in the 1980s, requiring
mandatory sentences for a number of drug violations. The guidelines
have be criticized by a number of federal judges who complain they
strip them of discretion.

Pofahl was convicted along with her husband, a Stanford University Law
School graduate and wealthy Dallas businessman, in connection with the
drug Ecstasy. While he received three years probation, she was
sentenced to 24 years without parole.

My knees buckled,” Pofahl told ABC News. “I was overwhelmed. I just
felt incredible that I was free to do things without someone looking
over my shoulder.”

The Pofahl case was profiled in Glamour magazine last year and the
Star Tribune of Minneapolis wrote about the Nunn case in late 1997.

Details of the House and Mills cases were not available from the White
House.

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SAMPLE LETTER

President William Clinton
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington DC 20500

Dear President Clinton:

After nearly eight years of intense frustration with your
administration for its abysmal lack of intelligence and leadership in
the field of drug policy, it’s a genuine pleasure to be able to
congratulate you for granting clemency to five federal prisoners who
were serving obscenely long drug sentences.

In a perfect world, there would be no criminal drug markets; people
with drug problems would have stumbled into them the same way smokers
and alcoholics do now. Those who chose to could also get over them the
same way; through their own initiative and with the help of medical
professionals of their own choosing – certainly not through the
intervention of their local narc or sheriff .

Who ever said we live in a perfect world? But — no matter what its
motivation — the same small step which freed five people also calls
attention to the gross injustice of our drug laws, and may thus be but
the first on a long journey.

For that I also thank you.

Sincerely,

Tom O’Connell, MD

IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone
number

Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it
at least somewhat so that the President does not receive numerous copies of
the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his work.
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ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing
efforts

3 Tips for Letter Writers http://www.mapinc.org/3tips.htm

Letter Writers Style Guide http://www.mapinc.org/style.htm

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Prepared by Richard Lake Sr. Editor, DrugNews

Please help us help reform. Send drug-related news to
editor@mapinc.org