For those whose lengthy incarceration is driven by cannabis related offenses, the injustice is particularly striking. As the United States moves away from the criminalization of cannabis, giving rise to a major new industry, there remains the fundamental injustice inflicted upon those who have suffered criminal convictions and the attendant consequences of those convictions. Those consequences include imprisonment for the cannabis offense, a vast array of collateral impacts resulting from the conviction (even if jail was not imposed), and enhancement of sentences for other convictions because of a prior cannabis conviction. The time is right to seek redress for the individuals impacted by these consequences, to enable them to renter society where they remain incarcerated, and to restore rights that have been forfeited as a consequence of those convictions.
The impact of the United States criminal legal system does not end at the prison walls. There is a vast network of life-altering consequences millions who interact with the criminal legal system. As identified in the 2019 Shattering the Shacklesof Collateral Consequences report, these penalties include restrictions on employment, housing, voting, and other opportunities. While some states have implemented mechanisms for the sealing or expunging criminal records, most are not automatic.
Recognizing this need, NACDL, with support from the NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice (NFCJ), created the Return to Freedom Project (R2F). The R2F leverages NACDL’s proven ability in partnering with different organizations to recruit, train, and support pro bono volunteers on back end and post release relief initiatives. Understanding that the multifaceted problem of mass incarceration is not solved by any single solution, the R2F uses multiple types of relief, including clemency, compassionate release, and expungement to assist individuals seeking to obtaining their freedom and restore fundamental rights.
In an expansion of the R2F, NACDL has launched the Cannabis Justice Initiative in partnership with the Last Prisoner Project. Last Prisoner Project and NACDL are focused on those who are being left behind, people who continue to be punished for past conduct that is now legal under the laws of dozens of states. This shared focus is what has led the Last Prisoner Project and NACDL to establish the ‘Cannabis Justice Initiative’—a endeavor to facilitate Clemency, Compassionate Release, Expungement, and Reform.
Continue reading below
Supported by NFCJ
The NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice preserves and promotes the core values of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American criminal justice system.Support Us Now
- Clemency is an application to the executive authority for a commutation of a sentence or a pardon.
- Compassionate release may be obtained via an application to prison authorities or, where statutorily authorized, via motion to the court in which the sentence was imposed.
- Expungement is the process of sealing or erasing criminal convictions in the eyes of the court.
Ready to volunteer? Sign up today.
This is a sponsored ad
Manage Your Law Firm All in One Place
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.