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Rockefeller Drug Laws

WNYC News

Prison Time: 40 Years of Rockefeller Drug Laws

Friday, January 25, 2013

Forty years ago this month, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller launched his campaign for what came to be known as the Rockefeller drug laws

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WNYC News

Supporters, Critics Assess Rockefeller Drug Law Reform

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's been a year since New York's legislature approved sweeping changes to the strict Rockefeller drug laws, and state officials are offering an upbeat assessment of the reforms. The reform granted judges the discretion to give low-level offenders lighter sentences or send them to rehabilitation.

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WNYC News

Governor Seeks to End Drug Laws and Break Prison Cycle

Friday, March 27, 2009

Protesters rally against New York's Rockefeller drug laws outside Governor David Paterson's office on March 25, 2009 in New York City. (Getty)

Protesters rally against New York\'s Rockefeller drug laws outside Governor David Paterson\'s office on March 25, 2009 in New York City. (Getty)

Governor Paterson and legislative leaders have announced an agreement to ease New York’s decades-old Rockefeller drug laws, once among the harshest in the nation. Speaking at a news conference in Albany, the governor says they are rolling back many of the mandatory prison terms for low-level, non-violent drug offenders.

“Where people are addicted and have committed crimes because of their addiction, we are going to shift our services from punishment to treatment, we are going to eliminate in most cases and severely reduce in other cases, the mandatory minimums that were set by the Rockefeller drug laws.”

The governor further explained the goal to reduce addict recidivism, shown to currently stand at 50 percent. He called the current legal system unjust and ineffective, creating “a revolving door for offenders mired in a cycle of arrest and abuse.”

The new plan to go before the state legislature will shift the sentencing of convicted abusers to new “drug courts” that will oversee their treatment rather than their punishment.

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