Nadine Strossen; Decriminalizing Drugs

Nadine Strossen:  I would say the whole criminal justice system and the extent to which it has been bogged down by this endless, so called war on drugs which is still… we still have a mandatory minimums that are much too high. We still are incarcerating people who are not victimizing anybody else directly, who are committing non-violent offenses of possession and it is having an enormously disproportionately adverse impact on racial minority communities in particular. I haven’t looked at the statistics recently, but they are just huge percentages of African American men who are in the toils of the criminal justice system and increasingly that is spilling over to women; so, that has an enormous impact on families and communities and without improving public safety. In fact to the contrary, because there are so many harsh mandatory minimums for these non-violent drug offenses that some violent offenders have to be let out of prison in order to create room for them.I think that we absolutely should decriminalize all substances for mature, mentally competent adults. I think the model of regulation is the one that is endorsed by the public health community in terms of the public health concerns. I think they are more on drugs as a demonstrated disaster in terms of its not preventing people becoming addicted and abusing drugs. It is creating far more problems than it solves in terms of violence and crime, jacking up the prices of the substances and one of the things that really surprised me was after 09/11, I in retrospect naively I guess thought that the war on terror would displace the war on drugs in one important sense at least and that is that we were going after all of the other sources of financing for terrorists, so why the heck aren’t we going after the drugs that are so profitable only because of the world wide criminalization and that is funding Al Qaeda and terrorist networks around the world, but asif it has become to kind of mixed metaphors a sacred cattle and this is one of those issues where I can’t think of a Democratic leader who is willing to speak out on these issues. It is one of those sort of like Nixon goes to China kind of thing where you have very conservative Republicans who have solid credentials as being tough on crime, who have been coming out for a long time advocating decriminalization. The entire national review a generation ago had an issue about this and there have been Republican conservative governors and so forth that have advocated it, but it is something that most politicians, especially Democrats will not touch will a 10 feet pole and I think it is deeply damaging to our country and this ties back to another issue that you raised…you know what is that people aren’t thinking about. I don’t even really hear much discussion about this or the fact that the United States has by far the largest prison population per capita in the world. We just take it for granted now and there is a prison industrial complex where so many communities have…and individuals and corporations, have an economic stake in maintaining this inside our country and again, when you add to that the fact that it is so skewed racially, I think it is an enormous issue of racial and justice as well as criminal and justice.

 

Recorded On: 2/14/08

Strossen worries about disproportionate drug penalties and the disproportionate effect they have on minority communities.

Videos
  • Beethovan and Picasso are the perfect examples for mastering the creative process.
  • Behind each of their works are countless studies and sketches.
  • The lesson? Never erase anything, keep iterating, and find new paths to familiar destinations.


After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil. PublicDomainPictures.net.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

Keep reading Show less
Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Lumina Foundation and Big Think have partnered to bring this entrepreneurial competition to life, and we hope you'll participate! We have narrowed down the competition to four finalists and will be announcing an audience's choice award and a judges' choice award in May.

The creator of the winning video — chosen by Big Think's audience, the Lumina Foundation, and an independent panel of experts (bios below) — will be flown to New York for a taping in the Big Think studio as a way to further promote their vision for a new, disruptive idea in post-secondary education.

Thank you to all of the contestants who spent time submitting applications, and best of luck to our final four competitors.

Finalist: Greater Commons - Todd McLeod

Greater Commons, founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. The current education system is inefficient and exclusionary, in which many students who end up earning a degree, if at all, enter a career not related to their field of study. Greater Commons solves this problem and gap in post-high school secondary education in a variety of ways. Passionately and diligently, Great Commons helps others obtain skills, knowledge, wisdom, motivation, and inspiration so that they may live better lives.

Finalist: PeerFoward - Keith Frome

PeerForward is an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. PeerForward works with partner schools to select influential students as a part of a team, systemizing the "peer effect." Research in the fields of sociology of schools, social-emotional learning, adult-youth partnerships, and civic education demonstrates that students can have a positive effect on the academic outcomes of their peers. PeerForward is unique through its systemic solutions to post-secondary education.

Finalist: Cogniss - Leon Young

Cogniss combines technology and best practice knowledge to enable anyone to innovate and share solutions that advance lifelong learning. Cogniss is the only platform to integrate neuroscience, through which it solves the problem of access by providing a low-code platform that enables both developers and non-developers to build sophisticated education apps fast, and at a much lower cost. It addresses the uneven quality of edtech solutions by embedding research-based learning design into its software. App creators can choose from a rich set of artificial intelligence, game, social and data analytics, and gamification to build their perfect customized solution.

Finalist: Practera - Nikki James

Practera's mission is to create a world where everyone can learn through experience. Today's workplaces are increasingly dynamic and diverse, however, costly and time-consuming experiential learning is not always able to offer the right opportunities at scale. Many students graduate without developing the essential skills for their chosen career. Practera's team of educators and technologists see this problem as an opportunity to transform the educational experience landscape, through a CPL pedagogical framework and opportunities to apply students' strengths through active feedback.

Thank you to our judges!

Our expert judges are Lorna Davis, Dan Rosensweig, and Stuart Yasgur.

Lorna Davis is the Senior Advisor to Danone CEO and is a Global Ambassador for the B Corp movement. Lorna has now joined B-Lab, the non-for-profit that supports the B Corporation movement on an assignment to support the journey of large multi nationals on the path to using business as a force of good.

Dan Rosensweig joined Chegg in 2010 with a vision for transforming the popular textbook rental service into a leading provider of digital learning services for high school and college students. As Chairman and CEO of Chegg, Dan commits the company to fulfilling its mission of putting students first and helping them save time, save money and get smarter.

Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka's Social Financial Services globally. At Ashoka, Stuart works with others to initiate efforts that have mobilized more than $500 million in funding for social entrepreneurs, engaged the G20 through the Toronto, Seoul and Los Cabos summits and helped form partnerships with leading financial institutions and corporations.

Again, thank you to our incredible expert judges.