For decades, lawyers, scholars, and judges have criticized mandatory drug sentencing as oppressive and ineffective. Yet tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders continue to languish behind bars. No one embodies the emerging consensus on the excessive cruelty of mandatory drug sentencing quite like Mark Osler.

You might call it a nascent civil rights movement in response to the new Jim Crow. About 150 people gathered Saturday morning at St. Peter Baptist Church in Glen Allen to discuss mass incarceration, the war on drugs and their effect on the black community. The Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration has scheduled forums Wednesday in Richmond’s East End.
Transforming poorer neighborhoods into desirable real estate for the new elites often requires getting rid of the poor: jail becomes the new home for many. The U.S. leads the world in prisoners with 2.27 million in jail and more than 4.8 million on parole. Minorities have been especially hard hit, forming 39.4% of the prison population, with one in three black men expected to serve time during their lifetimes.
Now that the ballots have been counted and the citizens of the commonwealth have spoken, we need Gov.-elect McAuliffe and our elected officials to focus on revamping our criminal justice system. Moving forward, efforts must be made to make the system more effective, less costly, and fairer — restoring faith in the system so that it can work for all Virginians.
The holiday season is here.  In millions of homes across the country, loved ones are missing from holiday celebrations, parents are longing for the warm embrace of a son or daughter, siblings are reminiscing of times past, and children are longing for their moms and dads.

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