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NY Takes Huge Step with Drug Laws

Posted by karmalily on March 4, 2009

New York has passed a bill that will get rid a set of laws known as the “Rockefeller Drug Laws.” These laws were enacted in 1973 and put insanely unnecessary regulations on drug crimes. From StopTheDrugWar.org:

…the Rockefeller Drug Laws mandate extremely harsh prison terms for the possession or sale of relatively small amounts of drugs. Though intended to target drug kingpings, most of the people incarcerated are convicted of low-level, nonviolent offenses. Many of the thousands of New Yorkers in prison under these laws suffer from substance abuse problems; many other struggle with issues related to homelessness, mental illness or unemployment.

Here’s a look at what the new bill will do:

The Assembly bill (A.6085) embraces judicial discretion in sentencing and allows for rehabilitation and drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration. The bill:

  • Restores the authority of a judge to divert some people into substance abuse treatment or other community-based programs that best address the person’s needs;
  • Provides for retroactive relief for those sentenced under the old Rockefeller sentencing scheme;
  • Creates re-entry planning services for those in prison, including services that improve access to medical assistance upon release; and
  • Establishes a “crime reduction fund” which will be used to fund prevention and treatment services.

It would be great if other states would take the initiative and take another look at drug laws. We really are living in a prison nation – our prisons and jails are overcrowded as hell. Let’s save that room for people who deserve to be in jail instead of someone with no criminal history who gets caught with a little weed.


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