New York, NY —
It's the end of an era in New York state. Governor David Paterson has signed a bill that will radically overhaul the state's 46-year-old Rockefeller Drug laws. Paterson says the struggle to overturn the law - seen by drug reformers as among the harshest in the nation - has been long.
PATERSON: We kept fighting and kept fighting, many engaged in civil disobedience to draw attention to this issue.
The law will allow for broader judicial discretion in a number of non-violent felony drug cases. Under the old laws, judges were restricted by mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. The law also call for millions of dollars to be directed toward drug treatment programs. The governor and other advocates say that non-violent drug offenses should be seen as a public health issue, rather than just a criminal justice matter.