Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released the following statement in response to Governor Gov. J.B. Prtizker’s issuance of pardons to over 11,000 people with low-level marijuana convictions in Illinois:
“We applaud bold action taken by Governor Pritzker to right the wrongs of the past by issuing pardons to thousands of people carrying convictions for low-level marijuana possession. The racial disparities infecting our criminal justice system are undeniable and have had a devastating impact on Black and brown communities. We may not be able to erase all of the damage that the war on drugs has unleashed on communities of color but, going forward, we can provide all individuals with low-level marijuana convictions the chance to start anew and overcome barriers to reentry.”
Of the 8.2 million individuals arrested for marijuana between 2001 and 2010 in the United States, 88% of those individuals were arrested for possession. This has disproportionately affected Black Americans, who are three times more likely than white Americans to be arrested for marijuana.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights. For more information, please visit www.lawyerscommittee.org