220 Green St., Albany, NY 12202 cflj@verizon.net 518.427.8361





Beloved Partners–Friends, 

I barely have breath, let alone words this morning as we awaken to yet another police killing. I’ve been in one organization or another since 1989 that demanded an end to this and despite all I know and have seen, even I am stunned. And grieving. And enraged. 

The work we do at the intersection of the drug policy and Black freedom movements demands that we be neither silent nor still. Drug war policies are only among the more recent in a series of policies designed to criminalize and kill Black and Brown people and call it our fault. We will hear many things about both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile–I’ve already heard about weed in the car Castile was in when he was executed in front of his girlfriend and 4 year old daughter. 

But make no mistake. Neither of these men nor the men, women and children who preceded them in this cacophony of blood and violence and hate, were ever killed for any reason other than that they were Black. Take a moment and recall the Colorado killer more armed than a troop in an active theater of war and how he was taken in uninjured. Or the Charleston killer eating fast food after executing praying people. 

How we think most deeply about doing this this work in consideration of the most vulnerable is incumbent upon us all. And as we do that, how we care for ourselves actively, is also incumbent.  Check in one on another.  Check in with yourselves. Reach out to me directly if it would help for me to get us all together before I leave on the 15th to talk, cry, think and breathe together. 

The great journalist and advocate, Ida B Wells, reminded us a century ago that a new name was given to the killings and a new excuse was invented for doing so. 

She was right.  And as painful as that is, what gives me hope is knowing that each of you exists and has the power to demand and help stop the excuses, end the killings and ensure we live in a world where every life does indeed have value.  Where Black Lives Matter. 

There’s a lot before all of us. A lot of work. A lot of healing but on this morning standing on a street corner in mid Manhattan and heading to my first meeting of the day, I wanted to reach out and say your lives and the lives of your children, the ones we have and the ones we’ve lost, matter. 


asha bandele

Senior Director, Grants, Partnerships and Special Projects
Drug Policy Alliance
131 West 33rd Street
15th Floor
NY, NY 10001
646.541.9499 mobile / text
Thank you for joining us at Reform 2015 and 
See You in Atlanta in October 2017!

New program aimed to help stop crime cycle

New program aimed to help stop crime cycle, CBS 6 (WRGB), March 31, 2016.

Excerpt: “A new program is coming to Albany County, with an eye to stopping what some call “the cycle.” The cycle happens when low-level criminals are put in jail, instead of getting help for underlying problems like substance abuse or poverty. The new program is called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion — LEAD — and would connect criminals with a case manager to help them along. The program started in Seattle five years ago. Since then, the city reports a 58 percent decrease in repeat offenses.” Continue>>

Albany launches LEAD diversion program

Albany launches LEAD diversion program, Times Union, Paul Grondahl, March 31, 2016.

Excerpt: “Alice Green shook her head in amazement at former adversaries gathered — black and white, cops and activists, prosecutors and social workers — to announce a new collaboration that will divert low-level criminals away from jail and into treatment services for addiction and mental illness.’This historic moment could not have happened 10 years ago,’ said Green, the city’s foremost black activist and head of The Center for Law and Justice, where Thursday’s news conference was held. Green railed for decades against disproportionate rates of arrest and incarceration for blacks.” Continue>>

Albany rehab program to replace jail time for some low-level offenders, WYNT, March 31, 2016.

Albany rehab program to replace jail time for some low-level offenders, WYNT, March 31, 2016.

Excerpt:”A different approach to law enforcement in Albany is about to get underway with the launch of a new initiative. It’s designed to reduce low-level arrests and racial disparity in the criminal justice system. This is a program two years in the making. It will officially go into effect on Friday. City and county leaders are anticipating positive results. The program is called LEAD, which is an acronym for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. It does exactly what it says. Police officers will use their discretion to divert low-level offenders to a case manager, instead of the criminal justice system. That case manager will then refer the offender to a targeted service like drug treatment” Continue>>

LEAD Launch: Smart Criminal Justice Reform Begins In Albany

LEAD Launch: Smart Criminal Justice Reform Begins In Albany, WAMC, Dave Lucas, March 31, 2016.

Excerpt: “Dr. Alice Green is director of the Center for Law and Justice:  ‘We’re at last collaborating with each other. Law enforcement. Business community. Service providers. We recognize that we have a serious problem. We’re incarcerating too many people. The criminal justice system cannot deal with those problems that people go in with. We can do it better in the community.’ Green says police officers are being trained using certain criteria to determine if individuals can benefit from a diversion program. ‘It’s not gonna change the entire system, as I think many people recognize. But it’s a beginning step.'” Continue>>