Rockefeller Drug Laws Crumble

27 03 2009

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The New York Times is reporting that New York Governor David Paterson has been able to negotiate a deal with the state legislature to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws which were established in 1973 to combat rising heroin use and associated crime. 

The laws, which are often referred to as “draconian,” require judges to sentence with mandatory minimums for some drug related felonies. The repeal of these laws, if approved by the senate, means that judges will have more discretion in sentencing first time offenders and would allow some current prisoners to apply to have their sentences commuted. The changes would also allow repeat offenders in possession of small amounts of drugs to go to treatment instead of prison. According to the article it costs the state $45,000 a year to house a prisoner. 

Earlier in the week protesters, including producer Russell Simmons, gathered outside Paterson’s NYC offices to voice their support for the negotiations. The changes to the laws, some of the most strict in the nation, is viewed as a radical move towards an emphasis on health and would be the most sweeping changes since 2004 when then Gov. George Pataki approved the Drug Law Reform Act which decreased some of the minimum sentences. 

Gov. Paterson himself was arrested while protesting the Rockefeller Drug Laws as a Senator in 2002: “Governor David Paterson has been a long time backer of reforming the Rockefeller Drug laws, and was even arrested in a 2002 protest outside then- Governor George Pataki’s office. Paterson was Senate Minority Leader at the time.” Source

Related Groups: Drop The Rock.

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