Commission Urges Lawmakers to Appeal Sentencing Laws

Former inmates and prison reformers were on hand today as the New York Sentencing Reform Commission held a hearing on possibly reforming the so-called Rockefeller drug laws.

REPORTER: The state has stiff sentencing rules that don't allow judges flexibility and put many people behind bars, who might be better served in treatment programs.

Anthony Pappa speaks from experience. He says he was behind bars for 12 years for carrying 4 ounces of cocaine

PAPPA: These laws don't work, they incarcerate too many blacks and latinos. It's costly, ineffective, treatment has been shown to be better and we need to change these laws.

REPORTER: There are two more hearings on sentencing reform in the state. They're in Albany and Buffalo over the next week. The Commission is tasked with making recommendations to the governor in the spring. There are nearly 14,000 people jailed for drug offenses in New York State prisons. They represent about 38 percent of the prison population.