On November 26, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared that February 20th will be celebrated annually as the World Day of Social Justice. At Dutchie, we’re supporting the Last Prisoner Project (LPP) with their efforts to speak to the human costs of cannabis prohibition, as well as highlight the work LPP is doing to repair these harms. This year’s commemoration aims at opening dialogue with stakeholders on actions needed to overcome the digital divide, provide decent work opportunities, and protect labor and human rights in the modern era of digital technology.
LPP wants people to: “Imagine sitting in a cell for years, or even decades, or even for life, convicted of an activity that is no longer a crime, while other people build millions in intergenerational wealth doing the exact same thing.” That is the reality for the thousands of people unjustly incarcerated for cannabis. Now, picture that your years of waiting are over and you are ready to re-enter society, but you weren’t given any resources to grow as the world’s technology advanced. Instead, you are burdened with the collateral consequences of having a criminal record while having to relearn the working world.
So, LPP is calling out the digital divide faced by thousands of people incarcerated for cannabis. When accessing online services they face barriers that include inflated costs, lack of device availability, and a need for digital literacy training. Today's digital economy demands access to online services if we are going to increase the quality of life behind bars, reduce recidivism, and support effective reentry. As of 2018, people who were formerly incarcerated have an unemployment rate greater than 27% (5x higher than the general population). Digital tools and skills can help bridge this gap.
LPP is developing a program to provide computers and other digital resources to modernize reentry for individuals affected by cannabis charges. They also offer reentry grants that can be used for whatever the constituent or their family sees fit—including electronics, digital education, or everyday living expenses.
Here at Dutchie, we are also making efforts to repair the harm done to underprivileged communities by the War on Drugs, including sponsorship of bills and non-profit organizations. This move is just the beginning. We know change starts from within, so we are also holding an internal Q&A to educate our team further on policy reform, led by our Director of Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs.
On World Day of Social Justice, we can leverage the momentum behind this movement to shed light on these matters for a more just, equitable, and effective approach to cannabis policy and related criminal justice reforms. You can also amplify LPP’s social justice message by sharing LPP + Dutchie-branded graphics on your social media using #SocialJusticeDay.
Visit lastprisonerproject.org/takeaction to support a more just & equitable approach to cannabis policy.
Co-Author: Stephen Post, Campaign Strategist at LPP.