A small group of items relating to Release, the drug advice and referral agency co-founded in London in July 1967 by Caroline Coon.
i) 5 mimeographed sheets, stapled at top corner, with Release Bust card attached to the top sheet. The first two sheets provide a brief history of the recently founded organisation, outlines its distinction from SOMA (“Release’s prime concern is to reform the manner in which suspects and offenders are dealt with under the existing laws”), describes its expansion into a general advice centre, and refers to the voluntary contributions raised “from individuals and from collections made at the Middle Earth and U.F.O. Clubs.” The third sheet lists the functions and aims of Release; and the fourth sheet (with a duplicate fifth), headed “Points to Remember”, provides clear and simple advice to anyone arrested. The Bust card, the first of its kind in the world, was designed, created and distributed from Caroline Coon's Notting Hill flat in July 1967 and handed out at the first Legalise Pot Rally in Hyde Park. Its layout, divided into two halves, prints advice on what to do "If You Are Arrested", and outlines the basic legal entitlements following arrest;
ii) 2 mimeo-graphed sheets, stapled at top corner, with Release Bust card attached to top sheet. The first sheet provides information on the civil rights of “persons who have been arrested”, with a “Points to Remember” sheet attached;
iii) single mimeographed sheet, printing a revised statement outlining the functions of Release;
iv) three unused copies of the Release form, issued to individuals arrested on drug offences;
v) Release fund-raising Christmas card, c. December 1967, reproducing Thomas Nast’s engraving, “Christmas Box 1882, St. Nicholas, North Pole”. Overall condition Very Good plus.
The idea for Release came about largely as a response to Hoppy’s jail sentence, handed down on June 1, 1967, and it was given further impetus by the febrile atmosphere surrounding the Stones' bust at Redlands (Caroline Coon, Rufus Harris and Steve Abrams first met at the first News of the World demonstration at the end of June 1967), and extra motivation when Caroline Coon’s boyfriend was busted. Its original directors were Joe Boyd, Caroline Coon, who named the organisation, and Todd Lloyd, an American who put up the initial money. Coon took the role of fundraiser and spokesperson, while Rufus Harris concentrated on the administration.
Their primary aim was provide bail services to people arrested for drug offences and to refer them to solicitors. A 24-hour telephone help line operated by volunteers was set up, based initially in Caroline Coon’s flat in Sinclair Road, West Kensington, before a one-room office was found in Notting Hill, followed in 1969 by larger premises. By then the organisation estimated that it was handling about 60 busts a month, and in the first nine months of 1970 they claimed to have helped 1,548 people with their court cases. As with most underground organisations and projects, Release’s finances were always tight, but it gained charitable status in 1972, and a few years later received a Home Office grant.