From the Desk of the Executive Director

Dear LEAP Supporter,

This spring, the Netflix series When They See Us, the true story of five teenagers falsely accused of a crime and the years they spent in the criminal justice system, had people from around the nation and across the globe talking. It’s been called “essential viewing” for understanding the problems within our criminal justice system, and was especially poignant for those of us fighting for criminal justice reform.

Storytelling has the power to change people. This story took the audience from hopelessness at the magnitude of this injustice to hope that we have the power to change the system. It was painful to watch, but it's necessary: through our understanding of this story and those like it, which LEAP's speakers magnify, we begin to understand the system and the many ways it has been broken. There is no escaping the issues of race and identity when navigating the criminal justice system, and when people are incarcerated, it impacts and damages their families, their community, and the culture for generations. 

LEAP speakers are criminal justice insiders fighting to make the justice system truly just and keep communities safe. By telling their stories from inside the justice system, they work to address issues including sentencing, cash bail, police training, recidivism, and re-entry programs -- key reforms that can help change the justice system for the better. And our voice keeps getting louder: our speakers bureau has doubled in size since we expanded our focus into broader criminal justice reform two and a half years ago. We’re excited to share what we’ve been working on with you. Thank you for standing with LEAP and standing for reform.

In solidarity,

Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
Maryland State Police & Baltimore Police Depts.
LEAP Executive Director

state by state accomplishments header

Alabama: Two judges from Birmingham and the Montgomery Police Chief joined the LEAP speakers bureau.

Arizona: Detective Sergeant Gary Nelson (Ret.) published an op-ed in the Arizona Mirror calling for innovative community solutions to reduce violent crime, rather than expecting more police to solve the problem. Nelson also provided a quote for the Arizona Republic covering attempts to deny foster care to minors with juvenile records. Officer Jack Wilborn (Ret.) published an op-ed in the Arizona Republic print edition on the need for sentencing reform. Corrections Officer Michael Gilbert (Fmr.) was interviewed by The Appeal about an effort to force inmates to pay for their own transport to medical facilities.

California: In honor of National Police Week, Sergeant Carl Tennenbaum (Ret.) published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle in support of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program and improving police community relations. Assistant City Prosecutor Yvette McDowell (Fmr.) published an op-ed in the LA Sentinel arguing for the importance of considering racial justice in marijuana legalization initiatives. Her piece also appeared in the LA Watts Times, the LA Press Enterprise, the SVG Tribune, the Daily Breeze, and the LA Daily News. McDowell was also interviewed by Postindustrial about expungement of marijuana offenses post-legalization. Probation Commissioner David Muhammad (Fmr.) published an op-ed in the LA Times about the Nipsey Hussle case and counterproductive supervision restrictions. Assistant City Prosecutor McDowell, Commissioner Muhammad, Deputy Chief Steve Downing (Ret.), Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey (Ret.), Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Rizer (Ret.), Special Agent David Long (Fmr.),  Detective Nick Morrow (Ret.), and Judge George Eskin (Ret.) provided quotes and photos for an ally to create social media graphics in support of legislation to restore voting rights to Californians on parole. LEAP signed on to an amicus brief in support of police accountability for Jessop v. Fresno.

Colorado: Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle was quoted in the Denver Post on Colorado’s mentally ill cycling in and out of prisons. Assistant District Attorney Jake Lilly published an op-ed in Westword in support of an initiative to stop the criminalization of homelessness in Denver.

Connecticut: Captain Lawrence Hunter (Ret.) added his name in support of the coalition to legalize and regulate marijuana in the state.

Delaware: Lieutenant Jim Nolan published an op-ed in DelawareOnline.com supporting the push for marijuana legalization. He was also interviewed for a podcast on the use of confidential informants in the drug war and the damage to community trust.

Florida: Colonel David Parrish (Ret.) sent a letter to the governor opposing legislation that would deny voting rights to people with felony convictions and outstanding justice system debt. Sheriff Jim Manfre (Ret.) met with legislators during multiple visits to the capitol in support of the Florida First Step Act. Special Agent Ray Strack (Ret.) published an op-ed in both the Palm Beach Post and the Sun-Sentinel also in support of the Florida First Step Act, Florida’s Amendment 4, and rejecting efforts to curtail felony voter registration.

Georgia: Lieutenant Tim McMillan (Ret.) spoke with a Journal-Constitution reporter on the current state of civil asset forfeiture reporting in the state. Officer Corey Lowe (Fmr.) was quoted in SFGate’s article about medical marijuana reform passing in Georgia, and District Attorney J. Tom Morgan (Fmr.) was interviewed by WWNN Radio about incarceration and the War on Drugs.

Illinois: Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) co-authored an op-ed with John Legend for the Chicago Tribune calling out the Fraternal Order of Police’s unfounded opposition to accountability and transparency reforms in Chicago. The piece was covered by Business Insider and four other outlets. Major Franklin and Officer Dave Franco (Ret.) gave written testimony in support of marijuana legalization, and LEAP was mentioned in articles by the Chicago Tribune and ATT.com on the marijuana legalization effort. The legislation passed. Officer Franco gave presentations on harm reduction at four universities in the Chicago area and spoke at a community forum on police community relations. He was quoted in the Chicago Tribune on marijuana legalization and law enforcement. Franco also spoke with the Daily Herald on testing drivers for marijuana use, and police and prosecutors finding fault with legal pot. Officer Brian Gaughan (Fmr.) gave written testimony in support of legislation to continue collecting police traffic stop data and to conduct analysis of the data. The bill passed. 

Indiana: LEAP signed on to an ally’s organizational support letter to the Indiana Supreme Court calling attention to the issue of civil asset forfeiture reform. Corrections Officer and Deputy Sheriff Sheri Ray signed a letter in opposition to a bill that would allow 12- and 13-year-olds to be charged as adults for attempted murder.

Kansas: Chief Mike Butler and Officer Mike Gilbert (Fmr.) spoke at a restorative justice summit arranged by an ally.

Louisiana: Chief Tim Lentz (Fmr.), Chief Bryan Zeringue, and Officer Tim Hitt (Ret.) gave quotes in support of police stop data collection legislation in the state. The bill passed. Officer Hitt and Chief Zeringue gave quotes in support of habitual offender reform legislation and the bill passed. They also gave quotes in support of school police. That bill also passed. Assistant City Prosecutor David Brown (Fmr.) gave written testimony in support of legislation to require that defendants are advised of the collateral consequences of a guilty plea -- a version of that bill passed.

Maryland: Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) spoke on a panel at an event for people working on overdose prevention and addiction recovery in Western Maryland. Deputy Secretary Wendell France (Ret.) was interviewed by Filter Magazine on the potential for medication-assisted treatment in correctional facilities. LEAP arranged for Capt. Sonia Pruitt to provide guidance to an ally supporting pre-booking diversion programs in her county.

Massachusetts: Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) was interviewed by the Boston Globe on the history of successful drug policy reforms. Commissioner Branville Bard was interviewed by News@Northeastern on how the Cambridge police academy is leading an “evolution of the profession” of law enforcement. In a WGBH interview, Boston’s Mayor Walsh mentioned Sheriff Steve Tompkins while discussing what it will take to lower crime, and homelessness in the city.

Michigan: Chief Ike McKinnon (Ret.) published an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press in support of Raise the Age legislation. Officer Jason Jakubowski (Fmr.) sent a letter in support of strong Clean Slate legislation to a key legislator in the state.

Missouri: Assistant District Attorney Lucy Lang (Fmr.) addressed issues with race and gender of prosecutors in a KBIA interview with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who defended her sometimes rough relationship with police. Chief Betty Taylor (Ret.) published an op-ed in St Louis Today in support of civil asset forfeiture reform legislation.

New Hampshire: Cheshire County Corrections Superintendent Richard Van Wickler was interviewed by The Marshall Project about providing medication-assisted treatment in correctional facilities.

New York: Chief Peter Volkmann spoke on a panel about law enforcement support for marijuana legalization at a community forum including police leaders. Chief Volkmann and Corrections Commissioner Martin Horn (Fmr.) provided quotes in support of comprehensive pretrial reform legislation enacting dramatic reforms to discovery, speedy trial, and bail practices -- the legislation passed in May, a major victory for the movement to end mass incarceration in New York. LEAP’s logo was used in a call-to-action video about legalization in NY, urging that the bill be brought up for a vote. Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues (Ret.) spoke on a teleconference panel about moving forward with marijuana legalization. He also spoke on a panel organized by an ally about race and community policing in New York. Chief Brendan Cox (Ret.) published an op-ed in support of legalization in the Albany Times-Union. Chief Cox, Deputy Inspector Pegues, Deputy Chief Wayne Harris (Ret.), Assistant District Attorney Lucy Lang (Fmr.), Lieutenant Joanne Naughton (Ret.), and Officer Jeff Kaufman (Fmr.) signed on to a LEAP letter in support of driver’s license suspension reform in the state.

North Carolina: Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) signed on in support of the North Carolina First Step Act, creating a judicial safety valve for drug mandatory minimums. He also sent a letter to the governor encouraging him to veto the Death By Distribution bill. Corrections Officer and Deputy Sheriff Sheri Ray wrote a letter to the governor and called key legislators to oppose the legislation that would open the door to prosecuting people for homicide for delivering a fatal dose of drugs. Ray and Chief Darrel Stephens (Ret.) provided quotes in opposition to the “Death By Distribution” bill. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Rizer (Ret.) wrote about bail reform in Mecklenburg County for The Crime Report. Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) was quoted at length by Charlotte Magazine in an article about police transparency and accountability and the “Burger King video,” surveillance footage from the fatal police shooting of Danquirs Franklin (no relation).

Ohio: US Attorney Carter Stewart (Fmr.) spoke on a panel at the Columbus Metropolitan Club about sentencing and drug policy reform in Ohio. Sheriff Craig Apple was interviewed by the Cincinnati Enquirer about MAT in jails. Chief Tom Synan was also interviewed by the  Cincinnati Enquirer about fake ecstasy, and other adulterated street drugs tied to 11 fatal overdoses in Hamilton County.

Pennsylvania: City Prosecutor Patrick Nightingale (Fmr.) spoke on a breakfast panel at the state legislature in support of a medical marijuana bill.

Rhode Island: Officer Beth Comery (Fmr.) submitted written testimony in support of defelonizing drug possession, and also in support of occupational licensing reform.

South Carolina: LEAP signed on to an ally’s letter supporting comprehensive civil asset forfeiture reform legislation in the state.

Texas: Assistant District Attorney Jake Lilly published an op-ed in opposition to a problematic bail reform bill in Texas in My San Antonio, which was also printed in AP News, the Laredo Morning Times and San Antonio Express-News. The bill was defeated. Security Officer Dean Becker (Fmr.) published a letter to the editor in the Houston Chronicle in support of marijuana reform. Lieutenant Jay Hall (Ret.) made a phone call in support of marijuana decriminalization to a key legislator on the fence. Judge John Delaney testified in Austin before the House Committee on Public Health in favor of medical marijuana. Senior Counsel to the Department of Justice Chiraag Bains (Fmr.) addressed the issue of voter fraud in the Huffington Post. He was also quoted in a Houston Chronicle article (reprinted in many additional outlets) on presidential candidates discussing restoration of voting rights for people convicted of felonies.

Virginia: Special Agent Jamie Haase (Fmr.) was interviewed about the impact of drug-induced homicide laws on police detective work.

Nationwide: LEAP and an ally organization published a letter signed by over 40 police chiefs, sheriffs, and elected prosecutors in support of providing Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in correctional facilities. We also issued a press release extensively quoting our speakers. The release was covered by the Associated Press and three other outlets.

  • LEAP UK's Stop & Search podcast teamed with Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control to promote a lobbying day in Westminster.

LEAP and multiple speakers joined ally organizations in a national statement of law enforcement executives, supporting a forward-thinking approach to mental health issues. The statement was covered by 58 news outlets.

Congressman Perlmutter’s office mentioned LEAP’s support for the SAFE Banking Act on his website. Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) was interviewed by the Washington Examiner and quoted in The Hill about the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to ensure that legitimate marijuana businesses have access to safe banking services, and he spoke at a conference on marijuana policy at the US Capitol.

Major Franklin provided advice on the pitfalls of a bill to fund drug checking equipment for local law enforcement in the field. Major Franklin also spoke at a briefing event and contributed to an op-ed in The Hill on how law enforcement can implement pre-booking diversion with a focus on reducing racial disparities in the justice system.

LEAP was asked to provide a statement for Leafly on a study of how legalization frees up police resources to fight serious crime.

Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller and Detective Debbie Ramsey (Ret.) spoke on a panel about law enforcement and homelessness at a national homelessness conference in DC. Detective Ramsey also spoke on a panel for legislators on policing issues in honor of National Police Week.

During a national restorative justice conference, Chief Mike Butler presented on how Longmont Police Department uses pre-booking diversion in restorative justice programs, and Captain Chris Dennison spoke about the Tucson Police Department’s restorative supervision model, which brings restorative and procedural justice into internal police discipline.

LEAP signed on to organizational support letters on various issues including: encouraging federal civil asset forfeiture reform in Congress; opposing a bill in the Senate which would massively increase sentences for fentanyl  analogues, increase the number of prosecutions, grant prosecutors more power, and deny defendants their constitutional due process; encouraging investing in treatment and recovery as opposed to current levels of federal drug law enforcement through the DEA; and supporting a bill to limit the cost of prison phone calls.

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Rizer (Ret.) published an op-ed in Mic.com in support of the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act to reinstate Pell Grants for people in prison. He also published two separate pieces about the case for education in prison in the Washington Examiner and in The Hill.

LEAP endorsed the federal Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act to expand funding for effective addiction treatment and recovery programs. LEAP submitted a letter signed by more than 50 speakers opposing proposed federal employment form changes that would require applicants to disclose participation in diversion programs. The administration dropped the proposed changes.

LEAP signed on to an amicus brief on the qualified immunity issue for the Supreme Court case Baxter v. Bracey. We also signed on to a bipartisan amicus brief supporting police accountability in the Doe v. Woodward Supreme Court case, and the Cato Institute highlighted LEAP’s support.

Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey (Ret.) appeared as an expert panel member on a televised episode of First Responders Live on FoxFlash.

If your state isn't listed yet, stay tuned...


Intl News

LEAP signed on to a letter on the global health and human rights crisis among people who use drugs, which was shared with governments, UN officials, and the media following the 26th International Harm Reduction Conference.

The International Drug Policy Consortium worked alongside various NGO partners to draft the sign-on letter, calling on the United Nations and governments worldwide to take urgent action to address the ongoing health and human rights crisis among people who use drugs.


LEAP UK was recently invited to give evidence at an inquiry in Parliament, hosted by the Scottish Affairs Committee. Police Inspector Jim Duffy (Ret.), a former Chair of the Strathclyde Police Federation, represented LEAP UK with a powerful statement about the drug death problem in Scotland, which has the highest rate of drug death in Europe.

LEAP UK’s award-winning Stop and Search podcast has hosted celebrities, former presidents, scientists, MPs, filmmakers, comedians, authors, doctors, the British Medical Journal, and more. In June, they teamed with Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control to promote a lobbying day in Westminster, urging the government to consider crucial drug reforms.