NACDL - National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation

National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation

NACDL’s State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) conference call series is entitled National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation (NACDL). The teleconferences feature an expert on an issue area and are designed to educate criminal defense lawyers and advocates across the country on a variety of criminal justice issues. Key to the calls is informing participants of any legislation or litigation pending that seeks progressive reform on the issue, and serves as a call to action for advocates interested in developing strategies for legislative reform or litigious efforts in their jurisdictions.

If you have ideas for future calls, please send an email to

Upcoming Call - October 30, 2019

Advocacy Call on Drug-Induced Homicide Laws
On the books in many states and federally, drug-induced homicide laws have gained in popularity as the country deals with an increase in drug overdose deaths. Drug-induced homicide laws seek to hold drug distributors criminally responsible for overdose deaths. Believed to target major drug traffickers, these laws are actually resulting in friends, family members and romantic partners of overdose victims being charged for their death. According to a 2017 report by the Drug Policy Alliance, individuals charged with or prosecuted for drug-induced homicide increased by over 300 percent in six years, to 1,178 in 2016 from 363 in 2011. Racial disparities are present with a disproportionate number of charges being brought in cases where the victim is white and the dealer is a person of color. Racial bias is also evident in the gaping disparity of the sentences being handed down to drug-induced homicide defendants of color – a median of nearly nine years, compared to five years for white defendants.

On Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. ET, NACDL will host an advocacy call on drug-induced homicide laws. Hear from our speakers and learn more about these prosecutions, laws, and how you to stay abreast on the issue. Please RSVP by emailing

Health in Justice Action Lab 
Drug-Induced Homicide Defense Toolkit
Charging ‘Dealers’ with Homicide: Explained
America’s Favorite Antidote: Drug-Induced Homicide in the Age of the Overdose Crisis
A Dose of Reality: Drug Death Investigations and the Criminal Justice System

Professor Valena Elizabeth Beety is the Deputy Director of the Academy for Justice, a new criminal justice center connecting research with policy reform, and Professor of Law at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Previously, she served as a law professor and the Founding Director of the West Virginia Innocence Project at the West Virginia University College of Law. Her experiences as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., and as an innocence litigator in Mississippi and West Virginia, shape her research and writing on wrongful convictions, forensic evidence, the opioid crisis and incarceration. She is the co-author of the newly published Wrongful Convictions Reader (2018). Professor Beety has successfully exonerated wrongfully convicted clients, obtained presidential grants of clemency for drug offenses, and serves as an elected board member of the national Innocence Network, an invited board member of the Research Center on Violence, and an appointed commissioner on the West Virginia Governor's Indigent Defense Commission.

Leo Beletsky is an Associate Professor of Law and Health Sciences at Northeastern University, where he is the faculty director of the Health in Justice Action Lab. He is also an Associate Adjunct Professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Professor Beletsky expertise is in the public health impact of laws and their enforcement, with special focus on drug overdose, infectious disease transmission, and reforming the criminal legal system through a public health lens.  


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