December 2009

Grant Results

SUMMARY

From August 2004 to December 2008, the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, created at Howard University to influence policies and practices related to drug abuse, addiction and racial disparities, planned and convened a Blue Ribbon Commission to examine racial disparities in substance abuse policies and to make recommendations for reducing or eliminating them, held African-American drug policy summits, worked in communities around the country on drug policy issues and disseminated the commission's policy recommendations.

Key Results & Recommendations

  • The coalition released the Blue Ribbon Commission report Racial Disparities in Substance Abuse Policies: Report and Recommendations in September 2006 and disseminated its recommendations at policy summits and through listservs, presentations, media strategies and partnerships with local coalitions.

    The report included four key recommendations:
    • Ensure equal access to comprehensive quality treatment services.
    • Increase representation of African Americans on all elected and nonelected oversight commissions, boards, task forces and other entities affecting drug policy.
    • Eliminate racial biases of institutions and individuals who exercise and implement policies and practices.
    • Increase participation by African-American researchers in collecting data and analyzing, evaluating and developing drug-related policies and practices.
  • The coalition convened four national African-American drug policy summits to disseminate the Blue Ribbon Commission's policy recommendations and to continue to explore related issues.
  • The coalition helped create and then guide seven local coalitions—in Baltimore; Chicago; Flint, Mich.; Huntsville, Ala.; Seattle; U.S. Virgin Islands; and Washington—to advance effective drug policies in their communities.
  • Through letters, testimony and meetings, coalition members educated federal and state elected officials and congressional staff involved with legislation recognizing drug use as a public health problem or addressing issues related to the criminal justice system and racial disparities. These activities, related to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)-funded project, were conducted outside the scope of RWJF's grants.

Funding
RWJF provided four grants totaling $948,714 to support this project from August 2004 to April 2009.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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The Problem

Since the mid-1980s, changes in drug laws have resulted in increased drug-related arrests, convictions and incarcerations; the U.S. Department of Justice reported that 250,900 adults were incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses in 2003, compared to 148,600 adults in 1990.

Although African Americans are not the majority of substance users in the United States, they are more likely than other racial groups to be prosecuted for drug-related offenses and less likely to have access to quality treatments, according to research by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Institute of Medicine. The Department of Justice reported that at the end of 2005:

  • A total of 547,200 African-American men were incarcerated, compared with 459,700 White men and 279,000 Hispanic men.
  • The percentage of African-American men ages 25 to 29 who were in prison was 8.1, compared with 2.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.1 percent of White men.

See also Grant Results on research on this topic funded by RWJF.

In April 2004, leaders of nine African-American professional organizations endorsed a framework for cooperation in promoting policies and practices to address drug abuse and addiction and the associated racial disparities. These nine organizations formed the nucleus of what became the National African American Drug Policy Coalition (with 25 member organizations as of June 2009).

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RWJF Strategy

At the time RWJF funded the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, this project was strategically aligned with the work of RWJF's Addiction Prevention and Treatment team and programmatically related to the efforts of RWJF national programs and grantees, including:

  • Reclaiming Futures.
  • Join Together/Demand Treatment.
  • A number of studies by researchers at RAND about California's Proposition 36 and racial disparities in treatment. See Grant Results.

It was conceptually related to:

See also the "Addiction Prevention and Treatment" area of RWJF's Web site. As of the first quarter of 2006, RWJF decided to integrate its substance abuse funding into projects directed at addressing the multiple social factors that affect the health of vulnerable populations.

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The Project

RWJF supported the creation and ongoing activities of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, an independent legal District of Columbia not-for-profit corporation which Howard University permits to be housed at Howard University School of Law. Howard University's Center for Drug Abuse Research provides office space and administrative services and staff support. Ura Jean Oyemade Bailey, Ph.D., directs the center. See Appendix 2 for a list of other funders of the coalition. It works to:

  • Reduce and prevent drug use and related crimes in African-American communities.
  • Promote understanding and knowledge about the public health nature of drug abuse.
  • Emphasize pretrial diversion over criminal sanctions. Pretrial diversion allows certain offenders to avoid prosecution and instead to participate in programs of the criminal justice system that emphasize supervision and treatment services.

See Appendix 1 for a list of coalition member organizations.

The coalition is a program of Howard University's Center for Drug Abuse Research at the School of Law, which provides extensive in-kind support, including administrative services and office space. Ura Jean Oyemade Bailey, Ph.D., directs the center. Arthur L. Burnett Sr., J.D., a Washington judge who is on leave from the bench, directs the coalition. See Appendix 2 for a list of other funders of the coalition.

During the period of these four grants, the coalition:

  • Developed a five-year business plan to sustain itself and conduct future activities.
  • Convened a 21-member Blue Ribbon Commission to examine racial disparities in substance abuse policies and to gain insight about drug abuse issues affecting African Americans and their communities. Lee P. Brown, former mayor of Houston and former director of the Office on National Drug Control Policy, chaired the commission.

    The commission held six hearings on racial disparities in substance abuse policies and heard testimony from 93 witnesses. Hearings were held in cities with large African-American populations and substantial drug problems, including Flint, Mich.; Houston; Los Angeles; and Washington.

    See Appendix 3 for a list of commission members.
  • Convened four national African-American drug policy summits in Washington to disseminate and discuss the commission's recommendations and explore racial disparities further.
  • Established local coalitions to implement, expand and evaluate evidence-based drug policies that would improve outcomes for African Americans in seven pilot sites: Baltimore; Chicago; Flint, Mich.; Huntsville, Ala., Seattle; U.S. Virgin Islands; and Washington, D.C. These locations were geographically diverse, and the work of the coalitions had the support of local African-American groups and government officials.

    Local coalition members typically included the local affiliates of the member organizations of the national coalition. Support from the national coalition included convening meetings of interested organizations, preparing or delivering testimony before local officials and providing other forms of technical assistance.

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Results

The project co-directors presented the following results of the project in a report to RWJF and a personal interview:

  • The National African American Drug Policy Coalition released the Blue Ribbon Commission report Racial Disparities in Substance Abuse Policies: Report and Recommendations in September 2006 at the 36th annual Congressional Black Caucus conference in Washington. See Recommendations.
  • The coalition convened four national African-American drug policy summits from 2005 to 2008. The summits featured keynote presentations by prominent substance abuse leaders and government officials, as well as panels and workshop sessions.
    • The 2005 summit, held April 21–24, focused on drug policy laws, how they are enforced and how they impact African-American communities.
    • The 2006 summit, called "Drugs, Poverty and Ethnicity: Advancing Treatment, Eliminating Disparities and Promoting Justice," ran from April 5–8.
    • The 2007 summit, called "Substance Abuse among Vulnerable Populations: Eliminating Disparities and Promoting Justice," ran from March 28–30. The conference agenda and program information are available online.
    • The 2008 summit, held September 23–24, emphasized drug-related federal laws and policies that should be reevaluated under a new administration.
  • The coalition, in collaboration with the federal National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA), organized research workshops on African Americans and the criminal justice system. These included:
    • A national conference on African Americans and posttraumatic stress disorder, held in Washington in September 2006.
    • A December 2006 workshop, held in Silver Spring, Md., which brought together African-American practitioners and researchers working in the area of criminal justice.
    • An October 2007 "Substance Abuse, Criminal Justice and HIV in African Americans Technical Assistance Workshop," held in Silver Spring, Md., provided guidance to researchers interested in applying for federal grants related to substance abuse, criminal justice and HIV/AIDS.
  • With national coalition support, local coalitions began operating in the seven pilot cities. The project co-directors met with local officials in six of those cities—Baltimore; Chicago; Flint, Mich.; Huntsville, Ala.; Seattle and the District of Columbia—to help them assess available treatment, mental health, literacy, employment and other services for nonviolent offenders.

    Among the initiatives of the local coalitions are the following:
    • Baltimore: The coalition helped establish a family drug court called the Family Recovery Program, designed to assist substance abusers access treatment and get their children back from state custody. The coalition also reached out to local universities, the public school system and churches to develop strategies for reducing the incidence of juvenile delinquency and drug involvement.
    • Seattle: The coalition works with juvenile and adult courts in King County and collaborates with Reclaiming Futures, an RWJF national program that provides services to youth coming before courts. Judge Arthur L. Burnett Sr., J.D., met with two judges of the Superior Court of King County, with the Prosecuting Attorney, and with a member of the City and County Council during this time period.
    • District of Columbia: This coalition, known as the Washington Healthcare Empowerment Coalition, received a $625,000 five-year Drug Free Communities grant from SAMHSA in September 2008. The Drug Free Communities program provides funds to establish and support the efforts of community coalitions to reduce substance abuse. In addition, the Center for Drug Abuse Research at Howard University received a $450,000 grant in October 2007 from the Addiction Prevention Recovery Administration, District of Columbia Department of Health, Citywide Substance Abuse Coalition.
  • The coalition co-directors responded to requests for assistance in establishing local coalitions in Hartford, Conn.; Los Angeles; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Prince George's County, Md.; and Richmond, Va.
  • Through letters, testimony and meetings, coalition members educated federal and state officials and congressional staff involved with legislation recognizing drug use as a public health problem or addressing issues related to the criminal justice system and racial disparities. These activities, related to the RWJF-funded project, were conducted outside the scope of RWJF's grants.

    Among the acts with which coalition members became involved are the following:
    • The Second Chance Act, signed into law in April 2008, which authorizes federal grants to agencies providing education, employment, counseling and other services to people leaving prison.
    • The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, signed into law in October 2008, which establishes health insurance parity for mental health and substance abuse services in co-payment requirements, deductibles and other coverage elements.
    • The proposed Justice Integrity Act, which would create 10 advisory groups to examine racial and ethnic disparity in the criminal justice system and recommend ways to eliminate it.
    • The proposed Youth PROMISE Act, which would authorize the creation of multidisciplinary councils to implement evidence-based prevention and treatment programs for youth.
    • Several acts addressing the disparity in the criminal justice system's approach to the crack and powder forms of cocaine.

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Recommendations

The Blue Ribbon Commission report (available online) offered four recommendations for reform, changes and improvements to the nation's approach to alcohol and drugs, with a special focus on the impact of those policies on African Americans:

  • Ensure equal access to comprehensive quality health services.
    • Change laws to require both public and private insurers to provide coverage for substance abuse and mental health treatment equal to that of physical disorders.
    • Screen every person entering the criminal justice system for alcoholism, substance use disorders and related mental health issues. When a problem seems to exist, provide a full diagnostic evaluation and a patient-centered course of treatment.
    • Use federal and state licensing requirements and educational resources to increase, improve and retain the prevention and treatment health care workforce.
  • Increase representation of African Americans on all elected and nonelected oversight commissions, boards, task forces and other entities affecting drug policy.
    • Take aggressive action to ensure that African-American professionals contribute to the development and implementation of policies. Representation on oversight and advisory boards must be in sufficient numbers to ensure that policies are culturally sensitive and services are delivered equitably.
    • Hold elected and appointed officials accountable for providing and implementing progressive prevention and treatment policies.
  • Eliminate racial biases of institutions and individuals who exercise and implement policies and practices.
    • Biases in health care: Eliminate stereotypes and assumptions in providing quality medical care and ensure that diagnosis and treatment are based on an independent evaluation of medical needs. This includes addressing selective drug testing of African Americans in hospitals and schools or as a condition of receiving welfare.
    • Biases in law enforcement:
      • Reconsider laws that create "drug-free zones" around schools. The federal laws that impose higher penalties for drug-related activities in drug-free zones disproportionately affect African Americans and Hispanics, who tend to live in higher-density inner cities, rather than in rural or suburban areas.
      • Change mandatory minimum sentencing policies. Retain sentencing guidelines to ensure that people are treated equitably, but allow judicial discretion to meet unique circumstances. Judges also should have authority to place nonviolent offenders in pretrial diversion programs or on probation, with treatment and supportive services.
      • Expand the drug courts that emphasize diversion, and implement procedures for screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment whenever appropriate and safe within the court system.
      • Reconsider policies that impose widely disparate prison sentences for crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. Conduct research and scientific studies to examine the rationale for mandatory sentencing for cocaine use.
    • Barriers to reentry: Remove barriers to financial aid for people convicted of past drug offenses, allowing them to obtain education or prepare for work. This includes removing restrictions on:
      • Financial aid for higher learning, vocational education or other training.
      • Eligibility for welfare benefits and public housing.
      • Criteria for securing employment, licenses or permits.
  • Increase participation by African-American researchers in collecting data and analyzing, evaluating and developing drug-related policies and practices.
    • Establish policies and practices to ensure that studies include appropriate analysis, interpretation and extrapolation of data to specific segments of the population.
    • Ensure that the culture and environment of people being studied are included in analyses and evaluations by promoting the involvement of African-American researchers in these studies.

Communication and Dissemination

In addition to the national summits, the coalition disseminated the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission report through presentations, media strategies and partnerships with other coalitions: the National Black Prosecutors Association, the National Organization of African Americans in Housing, National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, National Black Alcoholism & Addictions Council, Black Administrators in Child Welfare and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

For example, project staff:

  • Made presentations at annual meetings of member organizations. These included the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Bar Association, the National Medical Association and the National Association of Black Social Workers.
  • Made presentations to other professional organizations. These included the American Bar Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, the International Association of Addiction Medicine, the National Association of Black Counseling Psychologists and the College on the Problem of Drug Dependence.
  • Communicated through listservs with leaders of member organizations. In addition to highlighting the report's recommendations, these listservs advised members of major legislative developments, policy changes and significant court decisions.
  • Prepared an action kit to educate coalition members and other interested organizations, as well as the general public, about the issues explored in the report. The kit, which included suggestions for implementing the commission's recommendation, was distributed to attendees at the 2007 national drug policy summit.
  • Conducted extensive interviews with print, radio and television media. For example, the project directors were interviewed on the Washington CBS and Fox affiliates, and the report was discussed on Internet blogs and on radio stations affiliated with Howard University and with the Greater Washington Urban League.

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After the Grant

Howard University's Center for Drug Abuse Research continues to provide administrative and in-kind support to the National African American Drug Policy Coalition (NAADPC). The coalition is pursuing additional support from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Office of National Control Drug Policy in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in the U.S. Department of Justice; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; and private foundations.

Current activities include:

  • Helping the local coalitions prepare funding proposals and responding to inquiries from additional communities interested in forming local coalitions. In September 2009, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded NAADPC $125,000 ($625,000 for five years) for being the fiscal agent for the East Baltimore Drug Free Communities coalition. The Drug Free Communities program provides funds to establish and support the efforts of community coalitions to reduce substance abuse.
  • Helping the Washington Healthcare Empowerment Coalition implement its Drug Free Communities program.
  • Convening a section of the July 2009 American Bar Association Conference concerning the Obama administration and the quest for racial and ethnic equality and justice in America.
  • Working with staff at the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy to consider how best to include substance abuse and mental health concerns as part of national health care reform.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Increasing African American inmates' access to addiction care or diversion programs

Grantee

Howard University School of Law (Washington,  DC)

  • Business planning for a national coalition that promotes health-oriented drug policy alternatives
    Amount: $ 79,797
    Dates: August 2004 to July 2005
    ID#:  050797

  • National African American Drug Policy Coalition national summit
    Amount: $ 79,850
    Dates: December 2004 to May 2005
    ID#:  052028

Grantee

Howard University Center for Drug Abuse Research (Washington,  DC)

  • Increasing African-American inmates' access to addiction care or diversion programs
    Amount: $ 739,067
    Dates: December 2005 to December 2008
    ID#:  053825

  • Dissemination efforts for the Blue Ribbon Commission Report on Racial Disparities in Substance Abuse Policies
    Amount: $ 50,000
    Dates: May 2007 to April 2009
    ID#:  061283

Contact

Ura Jean Oyemade Bailey, Ph.D.
(202) 421-5552
jeanbaileyphd@aol.com
Arthur L. Burnett Sr., J.D.
(202) 806-8222
aburnettsr@aol.com

Web Site

http://www.naadpc.org

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APPENDICES


Appendix 1

Member Organizations of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition

  • Association of Black Health-System Pharmacists
  • Association of Black Psychologists
  • Association of Black Sociologists
  • Black Administrators in Child Welfare
  • Black Psychiatrists of America
  • Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
  • Howard University School of Law
  • National Alliance of Black School Educators
  • National Association of Black Social Workers
  • National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice
  • National Association of Health Services Executives
  • National Bar Association
  • National Black Alcoholism & Addictions Council
  • National Black Caucus of State Legislators
  • National Black Nurses Association
  • National Black Police Association
  • National Black Prosecutors Association
  • National Conference of Black Political Scientists
  • National Dental Association
  • National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Substance Abuse Consortium
  • National Institute for Law and Equity
  • National Medical Association
  • National Organization of African Americans in Housing
  • National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
  • Thurgood Marshall Action Coalition


Appendix 2

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Other Funders of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition

These grant funds come through Howard University's Center for Drug Abuse Research and are used to support activities of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition:

  • Catholic University: $1,000
  • Individual donations: $20,000
  • National Bar Association: $5,000
  • Soros Foundation: $20,000
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse, Office of Special Populations: $50,000
  • Addiction Prevention Recovery Administration, District of Columbia Department of Health, Citywide Substance Abuse Coalition: $450,000
  • SAMHSA, Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention, Ward 1 Drug Free Communities grant: $125,000 ($625,000 for five years)


Appendix 3

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Members of the Blue Ribbon Commission

Hon. Lee P. Brown, Chair
Former Mayor, Houston
Former Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy

Beny J. Primm, M.D., Vice Chair
Executive Director
Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Patricia B. Ayuk-Egbe, Pharm.D.
Associate Professor, Pharmacy Practice
Howard University, College of Pharmacy
Washington, D.C.

Francis L. Brisbane, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor
School of Social Welfare
State University of New York at Stony Brook
Stony Brook, N.Y.

James E. Cheek, Ph.D.
President Emeritus
Howard University
Washington, D.C.

Betty Davis-Lewis, Ed.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Immediate Past President
National Black Nurses Association
Chief Executive Officer
Diversified Health Care Systems
Houston, Texas

Julius Debro, Ph.D.
President Emeritus
University of Washington
President, JD Associates
Seattle, Wash.

Chief Clarence Edwards
Immediate Past President
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
Alexandria, Va.

C. Alicia Georges, Ed.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Past President
National Black Nurses Association
Lehman College Department of Nursing
Bronx, N.Y.

Vincent "Peter" Hayden, M.S.
President
National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council
Orlando, Fla.

Theorious M. Hickman, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W.
Past President
National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice
Durham, N.C.

Glenn F. Ivey, Esq.
State's Attorney
Prince George's County
Maryland

Joy Jordan, D.D.S.
Past President
National Dental Association
Washington, D.C.

Wilma A. Lewis, Esq.
Former United States Attorney for the District of Columbia
Partner, Crowell & Moring, LLP
Washington, D.C.

Averette Mhoon Parker, M.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Access to Racial and Cultural Health Institute
Washington, D.C.

Winston Price, M.D.
Immediate Past President
National Medical Association
Washington, D.C.

Rev. Kwame Osei Reed, Ph.D.
United Church of Christ
Central Atlantic Conference
Baltimore, Md.

Barbara T. Roberts, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Washington, D.C.

Hon. Martha Lynn Sherrod
District Court Judge
Huntsville, Ala.
Chair, Judicial Council
National Bar Association
Washington, D.C.

Mavis Thompson, Esq.
Vice President
Regions and Affiliates
National Bar Association
Washington, D.C.

Vernetta D. Young, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Howard University
Washington, D.C.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Articles

Burnett AL. "AN IRONY—Greater Protection of Individual Rights Now Found in State Courts." Criminal Justice, 22(1): 20–27, Spring 2007.

Burnett AL. "Juvenile Justice Issues of Major Concern to the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc." Juvenile Justice Update, April/May 2008.

Burnett AL. "The Potential for Injustice in the Use of Informants in the Criminal Justice System." Southwestern Law Journal, 137: 101–111, 2009.

Engerman K and Bailey UJ. "Family Decision-Making Style, Peer Group Affiliation and Prior Academic Achievement as Predictors of the Academic Achievement of African American Students." Journal of Negro Education, 9, Summer 2007.

Reports

Burnett AL, Bailey UJ and Toldson M. Blue Ribbon Commission on Racial Disparities in Substance Abuse Policies. Washington: National African American Drug Policy Coalition, 2006. Available online.

World Wide Web Sites

www.naadpc.org. Web site includes a description of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, its history and strategic objectives and access to the Third Annual National African American Drug Policy Summit.

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Report prepared by: Mary Nakashian
Reviewed by: Karyn Feiden
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Dwayne Proctor

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