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October 8, 2009

"Cons seek freedom after 'Rocky' reform"

The title of this post is the amusing headline of this New York Post article reporting on the opportunity for some state drug offenders to apply for sentencing relief after New York's recent reform of the harsh Rockefeller drug laws.  Here are the details:

Hundreds of low-level drug offenders were allowed for the first time yesterday to apply for reduced sentences following reform of the harsh Rockefeller drug laws.  "Under the Rockefeller drug laws, we did not treat the people who were addicted.  We locked them up," Gov. Paterson said at Brooklyn Supreme Court. "Families were broken, money was wasted, and we continued to wrestle with a statewide drug problem."

The laws — written in the 1970s under then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and considered among the most robust in the nation — were watered down earlier this year in a deal hammered out by Paterson and Democratic lawmakers in Albany.  The changes replaced mandatory prison terms with an emphasis on treatment.

In all, it was determined that about 1,100 inmates statewide were eligible to apply — although it is up to a judge to decide whether a reduction would be approved.  "A good number will be excluded," said Denise O'Donnell, of the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services.... There were 59,053 inmates in New York prisons yesterday.

The criteria for approval include being a nonviolent class B offender sentenced to at least one to three years who has a clean prison record — including having completed drug-treatment programs and getting a GED, for example.... The sentencing judge will review the petitions, and prosecutors will have a chance to argue against any reductions.

Some recent related posts on reforming NY drug sentencing:

October 8, 2009 at 09:33 AM | Permalink

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