Katal Newsletter - August 23, 2018

In this issue:

Remembering Harm Reduction Hero, Dan Bigg

Victory in NY

Overdose Crisis in New Haven, Connecticut

Remembering Harm Reduction Hero, Dan Bigg

 

(Photo Cred. Nigel Brunsdon, Photography of Harm Reduction)

 

On Tuesday, August 21st, the harm reduction and drug policy worlds lost one of our absolute titans when Dan Bigg, Co-founder of the Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA) passed away at the age of 59. Dan was at the vanguard of syringe exchange during the 1990s as a means to prevent HIV, however his groundbreaking work to provide the overdose reversal drug Naloxone (also known as Narcan) to people who use drugs may have had the largest impact. In 2017, Dan and CRA distributed more than 100,000 overdose prevention kits, resulting in 4,000 reported overdose reversals. Countless programs and individuals across the U.S. and elsewhere set up their own distribution programs with Dan’s help and many harm reductionists consider him an inspirational mentor. Keith Brown, Katal’s Director of Health and Harm Reduction said, “The loss of Dan Bigg is immeasurable in the harm reduction world. The scope of his influence both practically and philosophically is such that thousands of people would not be alive were it not for his passionate work. In the face of a system that aims to harm and punish people who use drugs, Dan taught us to use harm reduction as a radical self-defense mechanism rooted in unconditional love.” Katal extends our deepest condolences to Dan’s family, friends, colleagues, the Chicago Recovery Alliance, and all who were touched by his light.

 


Victory in New York 

 

Derrick Hamilton was wrongfully convicted and spent 21 years in prison. He speaks at a rally to establish a prosecutorial misconduct commission. (Photo courtesy of VOCAL-NY)

 

Earlier this year, the New York State Legislature passed a bill to create a State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct. The Commission would have oversight of the state’s 62 county district attorneys and their offices, and have the ability to review complaints filed against prosecutors and investigate when necessary. If wrongdoing is found, the Commission could recommend censure or even removal -- creating a new standard of accountability in the justice system in New York. 

Previously, Katal joined over 100 national and statewide organizations, exonerees, and wrongfully prosecuted persons in signing a letter urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign this bill to establish the nation's first State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct. Following days of intensive private negotiations with legislative leaders, Monday, August 20th, Cuomo signed the bill.

"Our criminal justice system must fairly convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent," Cuomo said in a statement. "When any prosecutor consciously disregards that fundamental duty, communities suffer and lose faith in the system, and they must have a forum to be heard and seek justice."

While this is a significant step towards reforming the criminal justice system in New York, the fight for human rights continues and there is still an endless amount of work that needs to be done. For more details or to become involved, contact Katal's Senior Policy Manager, Marie Ndiaye, at mndiaye@katalcenter.org

 


Overdose Crisis in New Haven

 

Over the last few weeks in New Haven, Connecticut, nearly 100 people have experienced an overdose and other bad symptoms from the synthetic substance, K2 otherwise known as “spice.” Katal's Co-Executive Director, Lorenzo Jones, and the Director of Health and Harm Reduction, Keith Brown, wrote about the way in which the drug war is propelling the Overdose Crisis in New Haven. Check out the full article here.

 

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