New York Rockefeller Law Reform Dies This Year as Pataki, Democrats Deadlock 6/28/02

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


Efforts to reform New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws ended in defeat this week as talks between Republican Gov. Pataki of New York, the Republican-led New York Senate and the New York Assembly, controlled by Democrats, failed to bridge fundamental differences of vision between the two parties. Thousands of New York drug prisoners and their families must now wait another year for relief from harsh sentences under one of the country's toughest drug laws.

Although Assembly Democrats had compromised repeatedly on key provisions of reform, Pataki and the Senate Republicans would not budge. The latest assembly bill made concessions by granting prosecutors more power in deciding whether someone convicted of a drug offense should be jailed or sent to treatment, on the issue of training of judges, and on increases in funding for prosecutors. The latest language would have limited who is allowed to receive treatment and reduced the scope of mandatory minimum sentencing reforms. The Assembly also agreed to "scale back most retroactive sentencing provisions" and compromised on the Governor's plan to enact mandatory minimums for drug-involved criminals who also carry firearms instead of gun supply reduction, as the democrats originally proposed.

The Governor accused the Assembly of opposing his alternative bill, S. 7588 even though it would "reunite hundreds of families in a matter of weeks." After speaking with representatives of Mothers of the Disappeared, an advocacy group for Rockefeller law reform, Pataki stated that he "offered a comprehensive plan, which has passed the State Senate, that advocates for change have called 'true reform' and a 'gigantic step' forward." The Star-Gazette, however, reported heavy criticism of Pataki by Mothers of the Disappeared, who blame Pataki for the lack of a deal.

The main point on which Republicans and Democrats refuse to compromise is how much of an emphasis should be put on treatment instead of imprisonment. The Governor and Senate want to see the decision of whether or not to send someone to treatment to have more involvement by prosecutors, whereas Democrats want judges to make the decision, which it is believed would allow more of those convicted into treatment instead of prison.

Debate over Rockefeller-law reforms has been intense. Recently, Pataki successfully pressured a Spanish-language television station to pull ads that were critical of his drug law reform proposals. The ad, put out by the Drug Policy Alliance (, accused Pataki's proposal of failing to help family members of those who have been given the largest mandatory minimum sentences.

A recent Zogby poll indicated that 73.8% of New Yorkers favor treatment over jail sentences for those who have been convicted of possession of drugs.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #243, 6/28/02 Editorial: The Specter of Coming Violence | DRCNet Interview: Roger Goodman, Voluntary Committee of Lawyers | DRCNet Book Review: Drug War Heresies | Supreme Court Allows Drug Testing All Students in Extracurriculars | Slim Supreme Court Majority Upholds But Also Criticizes Mandatory Minimum Sentencing | New York Rockefeller Law Reform Dies This Year as Pataki, Democrats Deadlock | Vermont Governor Quietly Signs Compromise Medical Marijuana Bill | Newsbrief: Unitarians Approve Anti-Drug War Platform | Newsbrief: Fatal Drug Overdoses on the Rise in Florida | Newsbrief: New York Pharmacies Fail to Distribute Sterile Syringes | Newsbrief: Arizona Supreme Court Rules Police Knock and Talk Violates Privacy Rights | Newsbrief: Kansas Sentencing Commission Wants to Focus on Prevention | Newsbrief: Illinois Juvenile Drug Courts Given a Green Light | Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana Distributor Angers Judge in California | Newsbrief: UN Reports Drug Use on the Rise Worldwide | Newsbrief: Scottish Police to Ignore Marijuana Use | Web Scan: Uniform Crime Report, World Prison Population List, Transnational Institute, Imani Woods, CDC, WorldNet Daily | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]