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Human Rights and the Drug War

Dedicated to the nonviolent prisoners of the US Drug War, to their families, and to all who work for their freedom and to restore respect for all Human Rights. The Human Rights and the Drug War project was launched in 1995 as Human Rights 95 (HR95).

Some HRDW victories / Awards and Honors

Medical marijuana reforms improve human rights compliance in States like California, but not yet at the federal US level.

Amy Ralston, HRDW featured federal prisoner as Amy Pofahl is now free, having won a Presidential Clemency from Bill Clinton. She hasn't forgotten the other Drug War POWs, and maintains a campaign at candoclemency.com to help other Drug War POWs who might qualify for a pardon. Visit her websiteto see how you can help Drug War POWs.

The November Coalition continues to advocate for inmates and their families and to campaign for drug law reform. Visit november.org to see how you can take action in your own community to stand up for the human rights of Drug War POWs.

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

-- UN Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, Article 1

Who's in Prison?

What You Can Do
To Help

We welcome your suggestions for installation sites for the exhibit and appreciate any donations of time and money to further the work of this important project.

Send your donation to:
HRDW, PO Box 1716
El Cerrito CA 94530

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What is HRDW?

Who's in Prison?

Drug War 101

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

What About the Children?

Medical Marijuana


UN Declaration of Human Rights

Free Amy Pofahl VICTORY!
After 9 years: Clemency!

Book Store Great gifts!

Shattered Lives
(The powerful new photo book based on this project)

Human Rights and
the US Drug War (Commemorative booklet)

Take Action

Drug Truce Petition for a negotiated Drug Peace


Shattered Lives (Book reviews)

Drug War Follies! (Performance by Jeffrey Stonehill)

Exhibit History

Glamour magazine

Email us

2 Million, Too Many Prisoners!

In the year 2000, the US prison population for the first time in history hit 2,000,000 inmates, largely due to the Drug War. This is mostly due to drug penalties. You will learn about this issue on our website, and we also recomend visiting november.org to become more actively involved locally in the reform effort.

"My brother got 27-1/2 years on informants testimony. Mikki, Chris & Virginia (Human Rights and the Drug War) were the first to speak for the drug war prisoners. Ever since the November Coalition (TNC) first organized a membership based organization, they have been invaluable help and we have maintained a network and informal team.

"But there are thousands of people that inquire -- for legal help and legal advice and we have a hard time finding that for people. There are no attorneys that EVER say to us: Can we help your organization by providing some pro bono help now and then? We will help you with a few of your member's egregious cases.

"I wish to God that they would."

"In Struggle,

Nora Callahan, The November Coalition." http://www.november.org 

The Human Face of America's
War at Home

The children of alleged medical marijuana provider Dennis Hunter stood outside the Sacramento office of the DEA to protest his being arrested and held without bail pending trial. Despite adoption of Proposition 215, a statewide California voter initiative to legalize the cultivation and use of medical marijuana, federal law takes its Draconian policy of zero tolerance to the extreme by forbidding juries from hearing evidence of medical use and thereby choosing to exercise their power to acquit in the interests of justice. This policy violates democracy and the voters' right to self-determination as it targets sick and dying people and destroys families.

The War on Medical Marijuana

Bryan Epis was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after the state of California voted to legaize medical marijuana. Read about his story and then take action to defend both the patients -- and States' Rights! Sign the online petition to free Bryan Epis.


Left: Ed Rosenthal, his wife Jane, and daughter, Justine, stood with supporters outside the courthouse after Ed was convicted in federal court of medical marijuana cultivation which was legal under state law. The jury publicly protested its having been kept in the dark about the medical issues in his case. Rosenthal faced a five year mandatory minimum sentence, but a federal judge used a combination of the safety valve and downward departures to reduce the sentence to one day, time served. Unbowed, he continues his battle to force the federal government to respect state's rights and medical marijuana. For more information go to green-aid.com.

Human Rights and the Drug War

Originally developed as Human Rights Atrocities of the Drug War, this project was a special photo exhibit showing nonviolent drug offenders and their families that was held in 1995 in conjunction with the United Nations' 50th anniversary festivities in San Francisco. It was designed to bring awareness to the general public and policy makers about the human casualties and costs of the US Drug War. The ongoing exhibit, now known as Human Rights and the Drug War, is a project of Human Rights 95 (HR95) that presents the Drug War in the context of its violations of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the American Bill of Rights.

Amy (Pofahl) Ralston wins executive clemency! James Geddes and Will Foster win parole!

Stop the deportation of the BC 3, including Marc Emery from Canada to the USA for sending cannabis seeds across the border. This is a minor effense in his native Canada, but a potential Lifetime prison sentence in the US.

Amnesty International USA is now investigating the US Drug War

Amnesty to hold hearings: An opportunity for victims of arrest or brutality as a result of the War on Drugs, to be heard. Through September 2003, Amnesty International will hold hearings on the issue of racial profiling throughout the US. Organizations involved with this issue are heartily invited. "Special attention will be paid to practices employed in the "War on Drugs" and "War on Terror." Great opportunity for Reform movement.

For information: amnestyusa.org/events/fall2003hearings.html

Buy the book based on this website and project

The book from which two out of three cover stories won early release!

Mentioned in Newsweek

True stories from the Drug War

Shattered Lives:
Portraits from
America's Drug War

Mikki Norris, Chris Conrad, Virginia Resner

More information /
Order form

The powerful book based on the HRDW exhibit. Filled with photos, personal stories, political information and valuable contacts.

Toll-Free Credit Card Orders




Featured Drug War POW in Human Rights Victory:


We won! Amy was released July 7, 2000

Amy Ralston (Pofahl), another victim of overzealous and misguided political prosecution, was sentenced to 24 years and served 9 years for criminal activities of her ex-husband -- who served only 4 years for his offenses. She was charged with conspiracy to import and distribute MDMA (ecstasy), money laundering

President Clinton did the right thing -- although too little and too late; there were four HRDW featured cases that got Presidential Clemencies. (Click here to learn about all our victories.) So why does former drug user GW Bush continue to give his family members special treatment for their drug use while allowing so many others to remain behind bars for doing the same things that he did during the 1970s and 1980s? Where is his touted "compassionate" conservatism? Protest the hypocrisy and demand that this administration end the drug war and show all people the same "compassion" that his family members receive. Americans need a second chance, not a double standard. Call 202-456-2883 to express your opinion on this outrageous misconduct from the President's office.

Thank you to everyone who wrote or called President Clinton and other elected officials to win this long-overdue presidential clemency. Amy spent more than nine years in prison for someone else's crimes. There are thousands more prisoners who need your help. Get involved to end the drug war.


Featured in Glamour magazine, June 1999, p. 224.

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