More than 100 entertainers, civil rights leaders and other notable citizens have signed a letter to President Obama, asking him to change the nation’s drug laws. The group is urging him to replace jail sentences with intervention and rehabilitation for non-violent drug offenders, the Associated Press reports.
They asked the president to form a panel to deal with clemency requests, and to support a measure to let judges waive mandatory minimum sentences.
“The greatest victims of the prison industrial complex are our nation’s children,” the letter states. “Hundreds of thousands of children have lost a parent to long prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses, leaving these children to fend for themselves. Many of these children end up in the criminal justice system, which comes as no surprise as studies have shown the link between incarceration and broken families, juvenile delinquency, violence and poverty.”
Celebrities who signed the letter include Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian, Will Smith, Jennifer Hudson, Nicki Minaj and Susan Sarandon. The letter was also signed by civil rights leaders and advocates such as Harry Belafonte, Julian Bond, Dr. Benjamin Chavis and Rev. Jesse Jackson. Hip-hop magnate Russell Simmons helped assemble the group, the AP notes. Some religious leaders, politicians, music industry executives, academics, business leaders and athletes also added their names.