Cory Booker on Drugs



Give addicts treatment instead of long sentences

Some of the most important work we need to do to reduce crime has nothing to do with police. I am proud more people are realizing the importance of giving addicts treatment instead of longer sentences behind bars. I am proud that there is a growing awareness of America's unmet mental health needs.

We are also coming to realize how essential it is to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline--the ridiculous policies that have criminalized kids instead of nurturing them, helping them, & healing them. There is a growing body of research that shows we can lower crime rates by better dealing with childhood trauma and investing in policies such as Nurse-Family Partnerships, where at-risk mothers get home nurse visits that are proven to reduce the cost to taxpayers of everything from kids' emergency room visits to teens' encounters with the police.

Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p.157-8 , Feb 16, 2016

Drug war isn't waged in privileged communities

I knew, from living in the relatively privileged communities I grew up in, that the drug war wasn't waged in those places like it was in Newark. I was coming from college campuses and towns where marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and other drugs were widespread and often used openly, with little fear of the police.

The war on drugs has turned out to be a war on PEOPLE--and far too often a war on people of color and the poor. Marijuana use, for example, is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for possession than whites.

Further, there is no difference between blacks and whites in dealing drugs. In fact, some studies show that whites are more likely than blacks to sell drugs, even though blacks are far more likely to be arrested for it.

Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p.181 , Feb 16, 2016

Staged sit-in at urban housing to disrupt drug trade

The resident Elaine Sewell called to ask me to help. A violent incident had occurred at Garden Spires. As she explained it to me, guys involved in the drug trade had attacked the security guards. "Cory," she said, "it is the Wild Wild West out here! The Wild Wild West."

My response was to explain to her over and over again that I didn't know what to do. "We elected you, Cory. If you can't help, then why did we elect you?"

Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p. 67-70 , Feb 16, 2016

Minorities imprisoned for drugs at 6 times rate for whites

More than 60 percent of the prison population is comprised of racial and ethnic minorities. This is driven by wide disparities in arrests and incarceration. Even though blacks and Latinos engage in drug offenses at a rate no different than whites, blacks are incarcerated at a rate six times greater than whites, and Latinos are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of whites for the same offenses. The incarceration rate of Native Americans is 38 percent higher than the national rate. Latinos account for 17 percent of the U.S. population, but 22 percent of the U.S. incarcerated population. And, blacks make up only 13 percent of the total U.S. population, but 37 percent of the U.S. prison population. Today, we have more black men in prison or under state or federal supervision than were enslaved in 1850.
Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 9 , Apr 28, 2015

End mandatory sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders

I reintroduced the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015, bipartisan legislation that would enact meaningful sentencing reforms that would make our federal sentencing policy fairer, smarter, and more cost-effective. It would reduce harsh mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenders, which is the single largest factor in the growth of the federal prison population. If we want our prison population to decrease, we must reduce mandatory minimums.

The bill would expand the federal "safety valve," which returns discretion in sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses back to federal judges. It would allow persons convicted under the pre-2010 crack cocaine laws to receive reduced sentences, a change needed to make crack cocaine penalties more in line with powder cocaine penalties. Crack and powder cocaine are pharmacologically the same. The Smarter Sentencing Act would reduce these sentences and save our country $229 million over the next 10 years.

Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 10-1 , Apr 28, 2015

The drug war is an abject failure

As homicides surge in the city he governed for seven years, Booker said he's looking at several programs to overhaul the US criminal justice system and end the war on drugs, which he said fuels much of the violence.

"I can say as a mayor who has been fighting on the front lines for years, the drug war is an abject failure," Booker said. "It's consumed egregious amounts of taxpayers' dollars. It hasn't achieved the public-safety aims of our streets, it's consumed human potential, it is a massive government overreach."

He said the real answer to fighting crime is addressing poverty and poor education. "All of these things are things we should be working collaboratively on," Booker said.

Source: Newark Star-Ledger on 2014 New Jersey Senate race , Jan 1, 2014

The war on drugs has failed; support medical marijuana

Newark Mayor Cory Booker took to Reddit Sunday to criticize the war on drugs, saying it was ineffective and "represents big overgrown government at its worst."

The Democrat wrote during the Reddit "ask me anything" chat: "The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence. We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential."

Booker then called drug arrests a "game": "My police in Newark are involved in an almost ridiculous game of arresting the same people over and over again and when you talk to these men they have little belief that there is help or hope for them to break out of this cycle," he wrote.

Booker has said he supports medical marijuana, and outlined programs he has implemented to lower drug arrests: reentry, court reform, jobs, treatment and legal aid.

Source: Huffington Post, "Cory Booker & Drug War" , Jul 16, 2012

Never attracted to drink and drugs, even as teenager

In a city not known for its salad bars, Booker is an anomaly, and his vegetarian diet is only part of it. He has no known vices or addictions (except books--a friend once joked that Booker's crack den was Barnes and Noble); drink and drugs have never held any allure. During high school, friends would offer him money just to see him take a sip of beer.

In mission and temperament, Booker is the quintessential designated driver. "TV, food, alcohol, sex--they're all things we can fill our lives with that can distract us from our purpose," he says. "I was one of those kids who wanted to be a good kid," he notes.

Source: Oprah Magazine on 2013 N.J. Senate race , Sep 1, 2010

Community courts for minor crimes like drug possession

Community courts zero in on low-level crime--offenses like vandalism, shoplifting, minor drug possession--and combine punishment and help. In the community court, instead of fines many people can't pay or short jail terms that do them no good, quality-of-life offenders will be sentenced to visible community service throughout the City and referred to drug treatment, job training, adult education, counseling and other services. Research suggests that this problem-solving approach to justice works: community courts in other cities have helped reduce crime while improving public trust and involvement in the justice system. I am so proud of the collaborative effort.
Source: 2009 State of the City Address at Newark Symphony Hall , Feb 9, 2009

Rated B+ by NORML, indicating a pro-drug-reform stance.

Booker scores B+ by the NORML on drug reform

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2016 NORML scores as follows:

About NORML (from their website, www.norml.org):

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty.

NORML is a nonprofit, public-interest lobby that for more than 30 years has provided a voice for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition. We represent the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly and believe the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana should no longer be a crime.

NORML supports the removal of all criminal penalties for the private possession & responsible use of marijuana by adults, including the cultivation for personal use, and the casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts. This model is called "decriminalization."

NORML additionally supports the development of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers could purchase it from a safe, legal and regulated source. This model is referred to as "legalization."

NORML believes that marijuana smoking is not for kids and should only be used responsibly by adults. As with alcohol consumption, it must never be an excuse for misconduct or other bad behavior. Driving or operating heavy equipment while impaired from marijuana should be prohibited.

NORML strongly supports the right of patients to use marijuana as a medicine when their physician recommends it to relieve pain and suffering.

Lastly, NORML supports the right of farmers to commercially cultivate hemp for industrial purposes, such as food and fiber production.

Source: NORML website 16_NORML on Nov 8, 2016

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Drugs.
  • Click here for a profile of Cory Booker.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Cory Booker.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Cory Booker.
Other big-city mayors on Drugs: Cory Booker on other issues:

Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee)
Bill de Blasio (D,NYC)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Bob Filner (D,San Diego)
Steven Fulop (D,Jersey City)
Eric Garcetti (D,Los Angeles)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Marty Walsh (D,Boston)

Former Mayors:
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform
Search for...

Page last updated: Sep 12, 2018