NYS CoRR Platform Message

NYS Coalition for Rehabilitation and Reentry

NYS Drug Law Reform

The 2004 reform of NYS drug laws did not reinstate judicial discretion that would allow placement of non-violent drug offenders in treatment programs upon their conviction, if deemed appropriate by the court.  Nor did it establish the necessary funding to provide treatment as an alternative to or during incarceration. 

 1. Read, Take Pieces, & Edit the following Message: 
(or write your own)

Our democracy cherishes the principle of equal treatment under the law, yet racial minorities are much more likely to be convicted of drug-related charges and presently are considerably less able to access treatment services. According to the Correctional Association of New York State, African Americans and Hispanics comprise more than 90 percent of drug offenders in New York State prisons.

The NYS Drug Laws unjustly affect families, particularly persons of color. Many of those incarcerated have been women exploited as drug mules. Two thirds of the women in state prisons are mothers of dependent children.  Current laws require judges to separate families,  and children are at the risk of entering foster care.

Incarcerating non-violent drug abusers for long periods of time does not serve to enhance public safety, nor does it offer the most effective approach to rehabilitation and restoration.

A failure of the NYS Drug Laws has been the inability to distinguish between addicted persons needing treatment and drug criminals preying on our children and communities. Mandatory minimum sentences force judges to impose excessive prison terms on low-level non-violent drug offenders and do not allow judges sufficient discretion to weigh the circumstances of the offense or the individualís character or background. Consequently penalties may be handed down unjustly, and rehabilitation options (including drug treatment, education or job training) cannot be offered as an option even when they might be appropriate.

A recent RAND study indicates that treatment for offenders, as opposed to incarceration stemming from mandatory sentences, would be much more effective in reducing illicit drug consumption and would be ten to fifteen times more cost-effective in reducing drug-related crime.

The NYS Commission on Sentencing Reform, in their report dated October 15, 207,  "believes that the law should expressly permit an alternative, non-incarceratory disposition where such disposition is consistent with public safety and the parties and the court all agree to that disposition for a non-violent felony offender who is in need of drug, alcohol, mental health or other community-based treatment and is facing mandatory prison upon conviction."

I therefore recommend that New York State drug laws should be amended to:

. Restore sentencing discretion to judges in all drug cases, in considering the circumstances and disposition of drug offenses.

2. Expand alternatives to incarceration.

3. Increase state resources for alternative sentencing treatment; and for addiction treatment programs in prisons and in our communities.

4. Reduce sentence lengths for all drug offenses.

5. Provide retroactive sentencing relief for all persons currently incarcerated under the Rockefeller-era drug laws.



    2. Send YOUR Email or Postal Message
    to your NYS District Legislators
and to some of the following:

Denise O'Donnell, infoDCJS@dcjs.state.ny.us
Senator Joseph Bruno, bruno@senate.state.ny.us
Assemblyman Sheldon Silver

Senate: Crime Victims, Crime & Corrections Comm.

  Michael Nozzolio,     nozzolio@senate.state.ny.us
  Dale Volker   volker@senate.state.ny.us
  James Wright  wright@senate.state.ny.us
  George Maziarz    maziarz@senate.state.ny.us
  Eric Adams  eadams@senate.state.ny.us
  Carl Kruger  kruger@senate.state.ny.us
  V. Montgomery   montgome@senate.state.ny.us

Senate Codes Committee
  Dean Skelos  skelos@senate.state.ny.us
  Stephen Saland  saland@senate.state.ny.us
  Serphin Maltese  maltese@senate.state.ny.us
  John DeFrancisco  jdefranc@senate.state.ny.us
  Eric Schneiderman  schneide@senate.state.ny.us
  Thomas Duane    duane@senate.state.ny.us
  John Sampson sampson@senate.state.ny.us

Assembly Corrections Committee
  Jeffrion Aubry  aubryj@assembly.state.ny.us
  Harvey Weisenberg  weisenh@assembly.state.ny.us
  Keith Wright  wrightk@assembly.state.ny.us
  Feliz Ortiz ortizf@assembly.state.ny.us
  Tom O'Mara  omarat@assembly.state.ny.us

Assembly Codes Committee
  Joseph Lentol   lentolj@assembly.state.ny.us
  Robin Schimminger   schimmr@assembly.state.ny.us
  Mark Weprin  weprinm@assembly.state.ny.us 
  James Brennan  brennaj@assembly.state.ny.us
  David Townsend     townsed@assembly.state.ny.us 






A summary of all 12 planks can be found at Summary

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