NY Assembly Mull Repeal of Drug Laws

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The New York Assembly is poised to pass a repeal of the state's drug laws, ending the 36-year-old mandatory sentencing requirements of the Rockefeller Drug laws. While they've gradually been relaxed in the past five years, today's bill would give judges the discretion to sentence nonviolent offenders to rehab, instead of prison. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says it's the cornerstone to the legislation.

SILVER: Achieving meaningful reform of the Rockefeller drug laws requires that we give our trial judges the flexibility to impose sentences that fit the circumstances of the offense.

Law enforcement officials say too much judicial discretion could release drug offenders who should be incarcerated.

The same bill was introduced in the state senate this afternoon by Manhattan Senator Eric Schneidman. Both Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Governor David Paterson support Rockefeller drug law reforms.