Washington D.C.— In a wide-ranging discussion on marijuana and the law, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) expressed disgust at the racial bias inherent in the drug’s enforcement:
I went to Stanford University. There were no FBI raids on marijuana usage there. There were no consequences. People flaunted the law with humor. But in the community that I live in, it is not a joke. This is destroying people’s lives. People are getting lifetime sentences.
Booker pointed out that people of color are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for using the drug, though usage rates are comparable to whites.
He also called for fixes to the broken criminal justice system. “To say that you are about legalizing marijuana and if you don’t say in your next breath that we should expunge the records of those who have been caught up in unjust persecution, to me you’re not addressing the shameful past of this country,” said Sen. Booker.
The podcast also featured Weldon Angelos, a justice reform advocate who was sentenced to 55 years in prison for a first-time marijuana offense. Angelos talked about the difficult work of trying to help those still incarcerated. “It’s tough to stay positive—especially in the current climate with the attorney general we have and the president … people are depressed. People are serving decades and some of them have life sentences for small drug offenses,” he added.
“Thinking CAP” is on summer break and will relaunch in September with two new hosts, Daniella Gibbs Léger, senior vice president of Communications and Strategy at CAP, and Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at CAP.
“Thinking CAP” is a weekly podcast from the Center for American Progress, launched in May 2017. In its first year, the podcast hosted leading progressive policymakers, authors, activists, comedians, and voices of those affected by harmful policies of the administration. Guests have include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Hasan Minhaj of “The Daily Show”; Chris Hayes of “MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes”; and authors Reza Aslan, Jennifer Palmieri, Ben Rhodes, and Daniel Ellsberg.
For information about guest booking or if you’re interested in a transcript of the interview, please contact Sally Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-481-8103.