Pressure Builds to Reform Rockefeller Drug Laws 6/2/00

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According to the FAMM-gram, pressure for sentencing reform is building in New York state with three new bills in the legislature that would effective meaningful changes in the state's sentencing code for drug offenses.

A-4117, sponsored by Assemblymember Jeff Aubry (D-Queens) is the most comprehensive and would repeal the Rockefeller drug laws, restore sentencing discretion to judges in all drug cases and allow inmates currently incarcerated for drug offenses to petition the courts for review of their sentences.

A-10051, sponsored by Assemblymember Martin Luster (D-Ithaca) would reduce the range of sentences and allow judges to sentence selected drug offenders to drug treatment, community service and probation. The bill would also authorize the state to defer prosecution in certain cases and mandate drug-dependent offenders to participate in treatment. Lastly, the proposal allows defendants to appeal unduly harsh sentences and permits A-1 felons (those sentenced to a minimum of 15 years to life) to petition for review of their sentences.

S-2992, sponsored by Senator John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) would double the weight requirements for class A felonies, raising the threshold for mandatory 15 years to life sentence from sale of two ounces of a narcotic or possession of four ounces to four ounces and eight ounces respectively. It would also allow an appellate court to reduce the sentence for an A-1 felony possession to ten years, and grants complete discretion to judges in sentencing first-time offenders convicted of low-level drug offenses (B, C or D felonies).

New Yorkers please visit to tell your state legislators you think the Rockefeller drug laws should be repealed. To get more involved in New York state, contact NY FAMM at (518) 452-5455, the Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice at (212) 539-8441, or ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy at or e-mail [email protected].

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