WASHINGTON, DC (October 6, 2022) The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for decades to end mass incarceration and support people in prison – commended the Biden administration's decision to pardon people with federal convictions for simple marijuana possession. The organization called on state governors to take similar steps and called on Biden to do more to address excessive and racially biased incarceration in the federal system.
“These pardons are an important step in the right direction. As we work to abolish the criminal punishment system in the United States in favor of approaches that center healing and accountability, we must also address the policies that drive incarceration today,” said Tori Bateman, Policy Advocacy Coordinator for AFSC. “But our work is far from over. Most people with marijuana convictions are at the state level, and the onus is now on governors across the country to sign similar pardons. It is also important that executives at the federal and state levels take steps to ensure that immigrants and people convicted of other marijuana-related crimes receive the benefits of this step towards decriminalization”
AFSC works at the federal level and in states across the country to change sentencing, parole, pardon, commutation, and policing policies and practices that lead to incarceration. “We all want to live in safe and healthy communities. But incarceration as a response to violence, drug addiction, and mental health problems has been an overwhelming failure,” said Lewis Webb, Healing Justice Coordinator for AFSC. “The ‘War on Drugs’ has incarcerated millions of people. Families and communities have been torn apart. And these approaches have not made us safer. Addiction is a public health issue. Our response should be prevention and treatment, not punishment.”
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.