Tuesday, April 17, 2012

          UC Hastings Students & Human Rights Commission Highlight Human Impact of “War on Drugs"

          More than 100 people attended a public hearing April 12, 2012, on the human impact of the “War on Drugs,” organized with help from UC Hastings College of the Law students Noah Frigault and Azadeh Zohrabi and San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission.

          Frigault and Zohrabi spent several months working with the Human Rights Commission as part of an externship with the Social Change Lawyering: Community Group Advocacy Clinic, run by Professor Ascanio Piomelli.

          The hearing was designed to put a human face on the community impact of the War on Drugs. Frigault and Zohrabi met with various stakeholders, including San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and members from the San Francisco Police Department, as well as communities heavily affected by local and national drug enforcement policies.

          The Human Rights Commission used the 40th anniversary of the War on Drugs to highlight the impact on those arrested or convicted of minor drug crimes and their communities. The commission has been conducting education and outreach on the discrimination against those with criminal records and the disproportionate impact on the African American and Latino communities.

          “People with arrest records or low-level criminal drug convictions are subject to legalized discrimination,” Frigault said. “There are so many disincentives to them re-entering the community, including things that seem cruel, like denial of food stamps, denial of federal education loans, and a one-strike policy for public housing. A whole family can be evicted even they are around someone with a felony conviction.”

          Frigault noted that we tend to think of San Francisco as “this progressive colorblind place,” but that “makes it that much easier to these things to happen under the radar.”

          The hearing included speakers from various public policy groups and nonprofits, including the NAACP and ACLU of Northern California. Additionally some 25 members of the community spoke during the public comment period. One possible remedy would be to include those with arrest or convictions records as a protected class. That would require approval by the city’s Board of Supervisors.

          “This was one of the best experiences I’ve had at UC Hastings,” said Zohrabi. “I was able to go out and work as a lawyer, and talk to the community about their concerns about the war on drugs. It helped me learn how to deal with different stakeholders.”

          Zohrabi said she was surprised to learn how complicated various policy issues and public safety concerns were. “It was the first time I was able to talk to law enforcement and get their perspective on it,” she said.

          Zohrabi has been working on issues of mass incarceration, and has also worked on ways to minimize solitary confinement.

          Piomelli said this is the first time his clinic has partnered with a governmental body. “Usually we work with nonprofits,” he said. “I was attracted to working with the Human Rights Commission, because this class is focused on introducing students to different approaches to social change lawyering.”

          The students were supervised by Zoe Polk, a staff attorney with the Human Rights Commission. “I have been quite impressed with her attention to student learning needs, while putting together a first-rate public hearing,” Piomelli said. “It was a wonderful first experience.”

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Thursday, October 19, 2017

          UC Hastings Law Receives $1 Million Gift from Shanin Specter

          Gift from renowned trial attorney will be used to build the new “Shanin Specter Courtroom” and to support multiple areas within the College.
          Tuesday, October 17, 2017

          How a decade of high-flying, high-stakes government jobs led 3L Christa Hall to law school at UC Hastings

          She's protected teams and aircraft on high-risk missions around the world, served as associate director and trip manager for President Barack Obama, and helped deal with crises like cyberhacks and the Ebola epidemic. Now she's preparing for a new way to serve.
          Thursday, October 05, 2017

          When a monkey takes a selfie, who owns the copyright?

          Andrew Dhuey '92 and the infamous “Monkey Selfie” case.
          Wednesday, October 04, 2017

          Professor Dave Owen receives 2017 Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence

          When his parents denied access to all TV except PBS wildlife specials, it sparked a life-long environmental law interest in our “infectiously enthusiastic” professor.
          Tuesday, October 03, 2017

          Thinkers & Doers: September 2017

          National Law Journal’s 2017 Winning Litigators -- Uber’s “Hell” program -- Foie gras off the menu in CA -- Comments on the Hash Lab Murder Case -- Pao Effect fighting the bamboo ceiling -- Top 10 LLM Program in California -- New neighborhood hotspots -- and much more
          Go to News Archive