Confronting Racial Injustice Panel: The War on Drugs in Massachusetts: The Racial Impact of the School Zone Law and Other Mandatory Minimum Sentences

In the 1980s, Massachusetts embraced the War on Drugs, enacting harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. It took decades to confront the reality that, in addition to being ineffective and costly, mandatory minimums resulted in the pervasive and disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown people. Panelists will discuss this troubling history, recent reforms, and the prospects for implementing drug policies that are effective, fair, and just.

Hon. Sydney Hanlon, Massachusetts Appeals Court

Massachusetts State Senator William N. Brownsberger, Second Suffolk & Middlesex District
Abrigal Forrester, Executive Director, Center for Teen Empowerment
Rahsaan D. Hall ’98, Director of the Racial Justice Program, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts
Deborah A. Ramirez, Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law


About the Series

Massachusetts is often heralded as the home of the abolition movement and one of the first states to abolish slavery. Yet the Commonwealth’s economy developed in collaboration with states that claimed people as property. This series explores how enslavement and white supremacy shaped the history of Massachusetts and how they continue to shape its present. From the first program “Slavery, Wealth Creation, and Intergenerational Wealth” to the final event “The Charles Stuart Story: White Lies and Black Lives,” the series asks us all to understand, acknowledge, and confront racial injustice.

Developed by Northeastern Law's Criminal Justice Task Force, Confronting Racial Injustice is a free, five-part series hosted by the Massachusetts Historical Society and sponsored by a number of Boston-area organizations.

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The Confronting Racial Injustice panel series is chaired by
Barbara F. Berenson, Lecturer, Harvard Law School; Senior Administrative Attorney, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (ret.)
the Hon. Barbara A. Dortch-Okara, Massachusetts Superior Court (ret.), former Chief Justice of the Trial Court.

Sponsored by

Northeastern University School of Law
Massachusetts Historical Society
Anti-Defamation League of New England
Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston
Boston Athenaeum
Boston Bar Association
Boston College Law School
Boston University School of Law
Beyond Conflict
Dorchester Historical Society
Flaschner Judicial Institute
Jamaica Plain Historical Society
King’s Chapel
Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association
Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys
Massachusetts School of Law at Andover
Museum of African American History
New England Law/Boston
Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School
Revolutionary Spaces
Roxbury Historical Society
Royall House & Slave Quarters
South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston
Suffolk University Law School
The UU Urban Ministry
Trinity Church Boston
Tufts University
University of Massachusetts School of Law
West End Museum
Western New England Law School

May 19, 2021

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Register Online