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December 8, 2004

Rockefeller reform a (compromise) reality

Yesterday I pondered whether we might soon see movement on mandatories, and the news from New York came quick.  As this New York Times article explains:

After years of false starts, state lawmakers voted Tuesday evening to reduce the steep mandatory prison sentences given to people convicted of drug crimes in New York State, sanctions considered among the most severe in the nation.

The push to soften the so-called Rockefeller drug laws came after a nearly decade-long campaign to ease the drug penalties instituted in the 1970's that put some low-level first-time drug offenders behind bars for sentences ranging from 15 years to life.

Under the changes passed Tuesday, which Gov. George E. Pataki said he would sign, the sentence for those same offenders would be reduced to 8 to 20 years in prison. The law will allow more than 400 inmates serving lengthy prison terms on those top counts to apply to judges to get out of jail early.

Quotes throughout the Times article, as well as additional effective articles from other New York newspapers here and here and here and here, highlight that the changes are the product of a legislative compromise that has disappointed many who were pushing for broader drug sentencing reform.  As noted in the lead of this Albany Times Union article:

Depending on who you talked to Tuesday, state lawmakers either broke a long-standing logjam and took real steps to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws, or merely tinkered with the harsh laws and frittered away any chance of future negotiations.

TalkLeft here provides more highlights, and more concerns, about the Rockefeller reform outcome in Albany.  Ever the optimist, I am inclined to celebrate an important (and overdue) step forward, and hope it is only the first step toward continued rethinking of drug sentencing policies and practices both in New York and throughout the nation.

December 8, 2004 at 07:43 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Dear Mr. Berman,
After reading your article, I hope you can answer a most serious question i have. I have recently been released from "the system" after serving a 20-life sentence. I was released after 17 years of incarceration through "merit time early release". I would greatly appreciate if you could help me find out if I am eligible to receive a reduction on my parole due to (and thank god for) the new "Rockafeller Drug Laws". I need a beginning and thought I would start here. I hope you can help in some small way. Thanking you in advance...Gerard

Posted by: gerard | Feb 2, 2005 4:10:55 PM

Sir, I am a sister in law of a young
man who has been sentenced to 30 years
under this law. He was a first time
offender, but because our middle class
family could not afford a lawyer, he was
unfairly sentenced. I am wondering what
type of paperwork can we do to try to
get his sentence lowered. He has been a
model prisoner for the past 8 years and
has a family who loves him dearly.
please help us to try to help him.
Thank you for your time. Billie.

Posted by: billie lacy | Mar 27, 2005 2:26:06 PM

I need a copy of this Rockefella Reform Law/
Bill. Would you please provide me with
this information.
Thank you very much.

Posted by: Henrietta Perkins | Jun 10, 2005 12:36:53 AM

I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF THIS LAW ONLY APPLIES B FELONIES OR A ALSO PLS LET ME KNOW AND WHERE DOES AN INMATE GET THE PROPER PAPERWORK OR COULD I HAVE THE NAME OF DOCUMENTS WE NEED TO APPLY FOR THIS PARDON

Posted by: deborah a green | Jul 23, 2005 12:05:46 PM

Hello,
My husband was sentenced under the rockefeller law in 1993. He was sentenced to lifetime parole. How do we appeal his sentence and how do I get the paperwork. We live in AZ. Can we get them online?

Posted by: Jennifer Guilford | Aug 19, 2005 4:59:10 AM

Good Morning: I am writing for my Son who was sentenced to five years- life for a class A-1 felony for narcotics and was just denied his appeal, he just heard that another law is being passes on Oct 30, 2005 that should help him. Is this true, and are you allowed to appeal more than once? This was his firtst offense. Thanks You for your time.

Posted by: Mom | Sep 19, 2005 9:49:43 AM

To whom it may concern,

I was convicted in 2002 of a class B drug
sale. I was sentenced to a 1.5-4.5 sentence.
I was accepted and eventually graduated from Shock on 2.12.2004. This coming February I
will have completed 2 years un-interupted
parole. Is there any hope for my parole to
be cut short? I am sure you have a lot to
tend to, any guidance/advice would be greatly
appreciated.

TB

Posted by: thomas barber | Oct 14, 2005 8:55:08 AM

my brother was sentence to 50-life in 1985.Iheard that Pataki sign a new law that would reduce his sentence.I was told that it is the merit bill law and that some inmates in barehill corr, facility were alredy being released is this law true.I am just a concerned brother who was trying to look up the information that was passed on to me

Posted by: a.freeman | Nov 14, 2005 10:00:51 PM

Hello,
My husband was sentenced under the rockefeller law. He was sentenced to lifetime parole. He has been out 3 years and is just trying to move on with his life and do the right thing. He has had a hard time finding work and was just recently let go of a job that he was at for 1.5 years because they found out about his conviction. He was an exemplary employee with great performance reviews. It seems so unfair how they could hold his past against him when it did not ever interfere with his job. I know that we can apply for a Certificate of Relief but we have to wait 2 more years in order to apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct because it was a Class A Felony. It was his first offense and he has not been in any trouble since his release from the Shock Program. Can we appeal his sentence and how do we get the paperwork? We live in New York. Can we get them online?

Posted by: Abby Vega | Apr 7, 2006 9:32:53 AM

Can you please tell if there is a law about first time drug offenders.. My son was given 7yrs after being told if he went to trail they were going to ask for 40 yrs. The older man was he was with went to trial was found guilt on 7 charges or more and released I don't understand can you give me some directions in witch to go

Thank You
A Very Concern Parent From Chicago
( Son in Allen Correctional In Lima OH

Posted by: Donna Rhodes | Apr 14, 2006 10:49:59 PM

My husband recently had his "time reduction" under the Rockefeller Reform. The judge only took off 5 years from a 25year sentence. He wants to appeal this decision, he deserves a greater time-cut. He has already served 13 years-it's time he came home! He is a first time offender and he needs someone to help him. Our family doesn't have much money, can someone help?

Posted by: WL | Jul 27, 2006 6:16:03 PM

hello.I am trying to get some information for my fiance. He was arrested in August 2003 on a first offence drug charge. He was sentenced to 4 years. This was a Federal case, and I wanted to know if Rockefella Law was applicable to Federal cases. If so is there any recorse to see if we can get him home early.
Thank-you for any info you can give.

Posted by: naya | Oct 16, 2006 8:01:02 PM

My dad was sentenced on may 8 2006 for selling drugs was his first time ever getting introuuble for something like this or introuuble with the law at all my dad is 50yrs old and was sentenced life in prison i know and he knows what he did wasn't right but he doesn't deserve the sentence he got i was just wondering if there is anything that we can do to get reduced or anything else we can do to help him hope to hear from you soon

Posted by: Laura | Dec 2, 2006 12:16:28 PM

To Whom It May Concern..
I need some help on how to help my husband. He was convicted on crime in 1997. It was a class A felony and he is a parolee for life. If you can help me get the information we need to reduced his parole sentenceing it would be grately appreciated. We need to move on we are a young family trying to make a great life for our son. Anything can help at this point. My husband was only 19 when he did the crime and he is now 30 and is a loving husband and a great father. He is a taxpayer, owns his own bussiness and pays his child support. Thank you for your time...Devoted Wife!

Posted by: Christie | Dec 22, 2006 9:45:11 AM

MY FIANCE AT ALLEN CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN KINDER LOUISIANA. THE CHARGE IS FALSE INPRISNMENT. HE WAS PLACED ON PROBATION WHEN HE CHANGED JOBS THEY GOT HIM FOR VIOLATING PROBATION HE HAS BEEN THERE FOR 2 YEARS AND STILL HAS ANOTHER YEAR HE FINISHES SCHOOL IN MAINTENANCE THIS MONTH HE DID NOT KIDNAPP ANY ONE ISNT THERE SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DONE TO GET HIM OUT EARLY IF ALL WE HAD TO DO IS WORRY ABOUT SOMEONE CHANGING JOBS IN THIS WORLD IT WOULB BE A WONDERFUL PLACE TO LIVE PLEASE HELP ME.

Posted by: | Jan 2, 2007 5:29:48 PM

MY FIANCE WAS CONVICTED IN MAY 1996 FOR CRIMINAL SALES 2ND AND 3RD DEGREE. HE WAS SENTENCE WAS 5 YEARS TO LIFE HE SERVED 8 1/2 YEARS IN PRISON.HE WAS RELEASE JANUARY 2005. WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT WE NEED TO DO TO TRY TO LOWER HIS PAROLE TIME. IF YOU CAN ASSIST WE WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE IT. WE ARE PLANNING TO GET MARRIED AND WANT YO MOVE AWAY SO WE CAN HAVE A BETTER LIFE FOR OUR 3 CHILDREN, BUT HIS PAROLE IS PREVENTING THAT. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.

Posted by: LOVING FIANCE | Jan 22, 2007 6:00:39 PM

I WAS CONVICTED TWICE ON THE SAME CASE. I WAS FIRST SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS AND THEN TO TEN YEARS. WHEN I WAS RECIEVED AT PRISON THEY THOUGHT I WAS THERE FOR A FIVE YEARS SENTENCED WHICH I CORRECTED THEM AND SAID THAT IT WAS BOTH FIVE AND TEN YEARS. SOUNDS CRAZY HELL I AM GOING CRAZY TRYING TO UNDERSTAND HOW ONE CAN BE SENTENCED TWICE TO THE SAME CASE. EITHER WAY I DID ROUGHLY TWO YEARS INSIDE AND I AM GOING ON 3 YEARS OUT HERE ON PAROLE. SINCE THIS IS HALF THE TIME OF MY LAST SENTENCE I WAS WONDERING IF YOU KNEW OF A WAY WHICH I COULD ASK FOR SENTENCED REDUCTION. OH, AND MY CASE DATES BACK TO 1994. YUP YUP! ITS AN OLDIE. I WAS CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA (INTERMIDATE AMOUNTS) TO 10-LIFE. BUT WAS REMANDED TO PROBATION WHICH I REVOKED BY MOVING TO ANOTHER CITY IN TEXAS (HOUSTON) AFTER 6 YEARS OF REPORTING TO PROBATION. THAT'S WHEN I WAS SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS AND WITH IN 5MONTHS I WAS SENTENCED AGAIN TO TEN YEARS. PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THERE IS ANY THING THAT CAN ACUALLY BE DONE FOR A SENTENCE REDUCTION OF PAROLE. A MILLION THANKS FOR ANY FEEDBACK OFFERED.

Posted by: CYNDI | Feb 3, 2007 11:03:48 PM

a person in need of help

Posted by: CYNDI | Feb 3, 2007 11:06:28 PM

Hello.My fiance was arrested on Feb.6th for the first time in his life. He is now being charged with two A felonies and two B felonies. We have been back and forth to court since. I'm scared and concerned about what they may try to hit him with. He has no criminal history and a consistant work history. He is young. We have a decent lawyer but I would really like to know what I should be expecting.

Posted by: Tori | Feb 26, 2007 9:11:56 AM

Hello, my brother was arrested 1.5 years ago for 1 A and 1 B felony second time around. The DA wants to give him 6 years if he tells them something. I'm worried about his protection and why his sentence is so long cmpared to his caucasian inmates charged with the same felonies and he saw them just get drug programs and prob abation. Can you give me any advice for him? His hearing date is in two weeks?

Posted by: Michelle | Mar 6, 2007 10:25:13 PM

my son committed 27 auto burglaries in 1 night over a 5 hour period under the influance of depressents and does not remember one single thing of the night. He was questioned under suppression. he is only 18 and was accopanied by a 17 yr old who just got a slap on the hand. we have hired a lawyer but they still want to put him in prison for two years. everything was recovered. he never got thru the night without getting caught. he has pleaded not guilty. what besides weekly drug screens and stable work can we do to prevent and prison time. he is just an 18 yrd boy and these where non violent crimes. please advise me.

Posted by: stephanie johnson | Mar 12, 2007 6:37:24 PM

federal prisoner seeks a reduction in his sentence sentenced in '75 parole date 2047.
john luttrell
32678-138
p.o. 1033
coleman l
coleman florida 33521

Posted by: teresa | Aug 23, 2007 1:06:01 PM

To whom it may concern i was arrested on 6-6-05 and sentence to 3-9 yrs in state prison for criminal sales 2 b felonies. Part of my sentence was to complete the Shock Incarceration in which i did well.I graduated on 2-9-06 and was released to nys divison of parloe. I served 11 months incarcerated and as of Feb,08 i will haved served 2 yrs on the street with out any problem's that's a total of 35 month's 1 month shy of my min sentence. I pay my parole fee every month and have sence day 1 of my release. Im holding a full time job i've been with my company for almost 2yrs.Well anyway i was wondering if there was any imformation that you can give me on getting of parole with good behavier or early release.I was told that i have to serve my min before that can happen and Feb,08 i will have serve my min. Now that im getting close to my min being done im being told something different now. I need help with understanding the way early release work, so if you or someone could please help me out in this situation that would be great. Thank You very much. please advise me.

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Posted by: tom | May 12, 2008 5:41:12 AM

My finance was sentenced to 5 years on March 2008 for Schedule 2 sale of controlled substance. Under the Mississippi Code 41-29-139 (1). I was wondering does he fall under the new law to have a early release.

Posted by: Tele | May 20, 2008 11:25:21 AM

hello my childrens father was sentenced to 20 yrs in federal prison for a drug consperacy. our children hurt the most living in new york and him moved to texas makes it rather hard to visit that being said our children have not seen thier father in 2.5 yrs its not fair . what is the status of changes with the rockefeller drug laws presantly can we as family members expect change? has oboma agreed that there should be change? how do we request a transfer closer to home?

Posted by: kelly hanford | Mar 7, 2009 4:53:35 AM

Hello I would like to know if my fiance falls under the rocafella law he has been charged with tampering with physical evidence,and a sale but his brother was charged with it and did 1year the report says that my fiance passed his brother money and he passed my fiance a small package please get back to me a.s.a.p. he goes to court 4-22.

Posted by: Tanya | Mar 22, 2009 7:29:01 PM

I AM A COLLEGE STUDENT AND MY BOYFRIEND HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH POSSESION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE AND HAS TWO PRIOR DRUG CONVICTIONS DOES THE REFORM LAWS APPLY TO HIM IF THE PAST 2 CONVICTIONS WERE APPROXIMATELY 9-10 YEARS AGO OR WHAT KIND OF TIME COULD HE FACE WITH ANOTHER CONVICTION WITH THE NEW REFORM LAWS IN PLAY

Posted by: ERICA | Jun 10, 2009 10:00:49 AM

Hi: I am a paralegal and I am trying to assist a friend with the necessary paperwork to get released under the new reform of the Rockefeller Law. I see other people have asked for the same thing..the forms or some direction on how to get them. I don't see responses to your postings though. Can you put me in the right direction as well. I work for a criminal attorney but this is all new to him as well. Please help me out if you can. Some people just sit there because there is no voice out here. Thank you kindly for any information you can assist me with. Laurie, Paralegal

Posted by: Laurie | Nov 14, 2009 8:25:53 PM

I dont' see my first post made it in but I am in New York and am seeking forms or direction on submitting for resentencing under the new reform. Please let me know if you can assist. I am a paralegal. Thank you.

Posted by: Laurie | Nov 14, 2009 8:28:23 PM

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