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May 27, 2008

NY Times editorial calling for Rockefeller drug law reforms

Today's New York Times has this editorial calling for drug sentencing reform in its home state.  Here are highlights:

Enacted in 1973, New York’s Rockefeller drug laws penalized some first-time drug offenders more severely than murderers. Named for Nelson Rockefeller, who was governor at the time, the laws tied the hands of judges and mandated lengthy sentences for young offenders who often deserved a second chance. The laws, which were supposed to ensnare “kingpins,” have filled the prisons with drug addicts who would have been better dealt with through treatment programs. They also undermined faith in the fairness of the justice system by singling out poor and minority offenders while exempting wealthy ones.

New York has made incremental changes in laws in recent years but has failed to restore judicial discretion.  A sentencing commission appointed by Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor, pretty much ducked the issue in an interim report issued last fall. But criminal justice advocates have higher hopes for Mr. Spitzer’s successor, David Paterson, who spoke out vigorously for Rockefeller reform as a state senator. He was arrested while demonstrating against the laws in 2002.

If Governor Paterson is looking for motivation to take on this issue, he can find it in a recent report from The Correctional Association of New York, a nonprofit group that monitors prison conditions.  According to the report, New York is currently paying $500 million a year to house its drug offenders....

Many of these people are clearly addicts who would benefit from treatment. But the mandatory sentencing guidelines limit the courts’ ability to choose the treatment option. It is long past time for New York to overturn these laws and to return judicial discretion. Governor Paterson, who can cite chapter and verse on this issue, should to take the lead in this important fight.

The "recent report" referenced in this editorial may be this this document from the The Correctional Association of New York.  This document clearly indicates its perspective from its title, "Say NO to 35 Years of Injustice: Policy Paper Urging New York State Leaders To Repeal The Rockefeller Drug Laws."

May 27, 2008 at 09:38 AM | Permalink

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Comments

My daughter is 19yrs never give me any problem growing up untill she found some new friends, she started going out to party drinking and smoking, right now she is lock up in Clinton County Jail on felony charges am not glad but its was best it happen that way, because I was afraid she would end up taking cocaine one day. She is pregant and the DA wants to give her one year in jail she never got in any trouble in her life this is her first time no one check to see if she had drugs in her system, which she was drinking and smoking when every thing happen. Most people can't be in the right state of mine after a night drinking or ect and now she is being charge with possestion with intent to sell and she going to have a folony for the rest of her life for one mistake .

Posted by: single mom | Nov 23, 2009 3:35:02 PM

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