McCann North America
Wed, 19 Apr 2023 16:11:00 GMT
The Last Prisoner Project, a national, non-partisan, non-profit organisation dedicated to cannabis criminal justice reform, announced today the launch of 'The Pen to Right History', a new campaign developed in partnership with McCann New York that is focused on delivering justice for those serving time for non-violent, cannabis-related crimes.
'The Pen to Right History' urges President Biden and governors across the country to free the thousands of people who remain behind bars in the US due to non-violent cannabis-related charges. The pen with which family and friends of those incarcerated write their stories and urge politicians to release their loved ones is being symbolically passed to the President to sign clemency orders and 'right' this long unaddressed wrong.
The campaign launches with a docu-style film chronicling the story of Richeda Ashmeade, a law student and poet who was just twelve years old when her father, Richardo Ashmeade, was sentenced to 22 years in prison on cannabis charges. The film highlights not just the inherent unfairness of Richardo’s incarceration, but how the pain and suffering of the injustice meted to him has rippled throughout his family. Through its website, digital, social and earned media, “The Pen to Right History” campaign invites those who have been similarly impacted by cannabis incarceration to share their stories and ask government officials to pardon non-violent cannabis convicts.
"Growing up in this country with a parent in prison makes it hard to grow up. But despite that, I did. I’m in law school. I’m an accomplished poet. I’m an advocate. Who I am today defies what statistics say I should be. But what does it mean when a child growing up to be educated, ambitious and empathetic is an act of defiance,” wrote Richeda Ashemeade.
Last Prisoner Project is aiming to deliver real justice to these people by pointing out a commonly overlooked hypocrisy – while recreational and medicinal cannabis usage become increasingly popular and legalized throughout the United States, tens of thousands of Americans remain incarcerated for convictions like Richardo’s. People of colour are especially vulnerable to this particular injustice, being four times more likely to be imprisoned for these offenses, which upends communities and destroys their lives and those of their families, friends and loved ones.
Sarah Gersten, executive director and general counsel, Last Prisoner Project, said: “The vast majority of Americans support this initiative and even as many states recognize the immorality of these sentences and de-criminalize cannabis possession, tens of thousands remain in prison. Freeing them is not only a moral good that provides those unfairly incarcerated with a second chance and addresses the systemic racism that underpins many of these convictions, but it’s a practical win as well…it would reduce overcrowding in prisons and save taxpayer money. President Biden took a positive step last year in pardoning federal convictions but it’s just a step… it’s time for the President and all of our governors to do the right thing and end this family-destroying, unjust and cruel scourge once and for all.”