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March 28, 2009

Will there be retroactive sentencing justice for drug defendants in New York?

This New York Times article, headlined "Deal on State’s Drug Laws Means Resentencing Pleas," suggests that the plans to reform New York's Rockefeller drug laws include provisions allowing some past sentenced defendants to obtain resentencings:

An agreement reached by Gov. David A. Paterson and legislative leaders this week to give judges more flexibility to determine drug sentences would also allow hundreds of people currently in prison for nonviolent drug offenses to ask a judge to resentence them, the governor said Friday.

The proposal, which sweeps away much of what is left of the Rockefeller-era drug laws, would also create new categories of crimes for so-called drug kingpins and people who sell drugs to children. Mr. Paterson and legislators hailed the plan’s central elements — which would give judges the option of sending many low-level drug offenders to treatment instead of prison even if a prosecutor objects — as sweeping and historic changes in the state’s criminal justice policy....

Mindful of the objections of prosecutors and some Republicans who have criticized the proposal as too lenient on offenders caught with large quantities of drugs, supporters of the plan stressed the new laws’ enhanced criminal penalties. “This is designed to ensure that those who suffer from addiction go to treatment and that those who profit from addiction go to prison,” said Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat who has led the Senate’s effort to revise the drug laws.

But, as detailed in this Buffalo News article, headlined "Plan to soften state drug laws ignites political storm," nobody should be counting their resentencing chickens yet.  This piece notes Republican and law enforcement opposition to the reform plans and it ends with this notable quote:

The Republicans may be in the minority in Albany, but they’re vowing a spirited fight here.  “I don’t think it’s over yet,” [Sen. Dale M.] Volker said. “We’re going to do everything we can to weaken [the agreement] and try to modify it, so it doesn’t kill the criminal-justice system.”

Some recent related posts on reforming NY drug sentencing:

March 28, 2009 at 04:13 PM | Permalink


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Those who suffer from addiction will blast you to get $5. The public voted for the Democrat, the party of the lawyer. It deserves all that is coming to it. Berman's cheerleading for loosing 1000's of heartless, vicious thugs is inappropriate for an academic. He is a left wing partisan, and a criminal lover.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 28, 2009 6:14:33 PM

Every Republican I know is a lawyer.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 29, 2009 5:03:11 PM

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