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Previous Events

On October 7-8, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Academy for Justice explored the myriad issues surrounding drug sentencing and its contribution to mass incarceration and mass punishment during this major symposium. In addition to academics, researchers, and advocates discussing sound drug sentencing policies, this event also included judges, current and former prosecutors, defense attorneys, and justice-involved individuals sharing their perspectives on drug sentencing practices.

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center held the Inaugural 2021 Menard Family Lecture on Drug Policy and Criminal Justice on Thursday, October 7. The event featured Eric H. Holder, Jr., former Attorney General of the United States, and Piper Kerman, social justice advocate and author of “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison,” and special guests Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Chief U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley for the Southern District of Ohio. This event was held virtually and served as a keynote for the Understanding Drug Sentencing Symposium. The symposium was co-hosted by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Academy for Justice at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

The National Association of Sentencing Commissions (NASC) and the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center co-hosted a series of virtual sentencing workshops that brought together leaders from sentencing commissions, the judiciary, and academia.

 

"Vetting Wrongful Convictions: Perspective, Approach, and Strategy" was held on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. This moderated panel discussion will focus on how jurisdictions are addressing wrongful convictions. The invited panelists will share their respective approaches to addressing wrongful convictions and candidly discuss which strategies are working and which are falling short. The panel will discuss a variety of approaches such as conviction integrity units and standalone commissions, and provide their thoughts on how to best move forward.

 

Panelists: 
Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, chief deputy, Conviction Integrity Section, Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General
Valerie Newman, director, Conviction Integrity Unit, Wayne County, Michigan
Lindsey Guice Smith, executive director, North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission
Judge Gene Zmuda, chair, Ohio Task Force on Conviction Integrity and Postconviction Review

Moderator:
John Hollway, executive director, Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice

Despite enthusiasm from policymakers and hard work by government regulators, many feel that the promise of social equity in the cannabis industry remains elusive. The obstacles are numerous, ranging from legal challenges, to difficulties with implementation, to weak policy provisions. Is it time to rethink cannabis social equity?

 

On Wednesday, June 9, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual event that brought together a panel of experts who are imagining a different framework to achieve the goal of healing the harms of past prohibition and lift communities affected by the War on Drugs. Panelists discussed ways to expand the horizons of how we achieve social equity.

 

Panelists:
Douglas A. Berman, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
Amber Marks, lawyer and lecturer, Queen Mary University of London
Cat Packer ’15, executive director, Department of Cannabis Regulation, City of Los Angeles
Dan Riffle ’03, policy analyst, District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health

Moderator:
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and vice-chair, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition

The National Association of Sentencing Commissions (NASC) and the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center co-hosted a series of virtual sentencing workshops that brought together leaders from sentencing commissions, the judiciary, and academia.

 

"Justice Counts: Using Data to Inform Policy and Bolster Public Safety" was held on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. This moderated panel discussion will focus on a new national initiative designed to help states make criminal justice data more accessible, clear, and usable for policymakers. Backed by a coalition of 21 national partner organizations and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Justice Counts brings together state and local leaders to reach consensus about a limited set of criminal justice metrics that leaders can use to inform budget and policy decisions. The initiative also includes a scan of public, aggregate-level criminal justice data and identifies existing gaps in data reporting.

 

Panelists:
Megan Grasso, deputy program director, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Sarah Lee, policy analyst, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Carl Reynolds, senior legal and policy advisor, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Ken Sanchagrin, executive director, Oregon Criminal Justice Commission
Scott Schultz, executive director, Kansas Sentencing Commission

Moderator:
Bennet Wright, executive director, Alabama Sentencing Commission

In recent years, social equity has become a routine part of conversations surrounding cannabis legalization. Yet, despite the stated goals of political leaders and various efforts of multiple states, challenges with implementing robust social equity programs persist.

 

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual panel event that brought together experts from states whose recent cannabis legalizations include social equity provisions. Panelists discussed their state’s experience, lessons learned, and focus areas for federal legislators and regulators as they begin considering cannabis legalization nationwide.

 

Panelists:
Dianna Houenou, senior policy advisor and associate counsel, Office of the Governor, State of New Jersey, and incoming chair, New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission
Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor for cannabis control, Office of the Governor, State of Illinois
Jason Ortiz, president, Minority Cannabis Business Association, and board member, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and vice-chair, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition

Moderator:
Natalie Fertig, federal cannabis policy reporter, POLITICO

The purpose of this invitation-only symposium held March 16, 2021 was to educate advocates, congressional staff, administration officials, and scholars about the possibility that classwide scheduling of fentanyl analogues will yield unintended consequences, and to highlight evidence-based alternatives that can help reduce overdose deaths. Participants learned about the relationship between classwide scheduling and public health policy approaches to dealing with fentanyl analogues and overdose. Participants were presented with an intersectional discussion of the issue that examines classwide scheduling and its impact on the criminal legal system, racial inequities, scientific research, medicine, and evidence-based drug policy.

Ohio has a long history of criminal justice reform and drug sentencing reform, and yet few can be pleased that Ohio still has the 12th highest incarceration rate in the country and one of the highest rates of overdose deaths. With the passage of HB1 and the failure of SB3 at the end of 2020, many are left wondering what can and cannot be achieved through legislative reforms in Ohio.

 

On February 24, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual event focused on Ohio’s recent reform history, what we might expect in the near future, and how research and experience in other states can inform reform efforts in the Buckeye State.

 

Panelists:
Sara Andrews, executive director of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission
Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist at the ACLU of Ohio
Micah Derry, state director for the Ohio chapter of Americans for ProsperityAndrew Geisler, legal fellow at The Buckeye Institute
Kyle Strickland, deputy director of race and democracy at the Roosevelt Institute and senior legal analyst at Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity

Moderators:
Douglas A. Berman, executive director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
Alex Fraga, senior research associate at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

The 2020 election had a significant impact on how the United States addresses a broad range of policy issues, and drug enforcement and policy is no exception. Numerous states approved medical or full marijuana legalization via ballot initiative, and voters in other states weighed in on drug-related criminal justice ballot initiatives. At the federal level, marijuana reform has been gaining momentum and federal officials will undoubtedly take cues from the nationwide election results to determine the pace of reform on an array of drug enforcement and policy issues.

 

Our panel of experts discussed the 2020 election results and what they are likely to mean for drug enforcement and policy at both the state and federal level.

 

Speakers:
John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management and a senior fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
Maritza Perez, director of the Office of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance
Tamar Todd, legal director, New Approach PAC

Moderator:
Douglas A. Berman, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center