NYS CoRR Platform
NYS Coalition for Rehabilitation and Reentry
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
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
I therefore recommend that
New York State drug laws should be amended to:
1. 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:
Senator Joseph Bruno,
Assemblyman Sheldon Silver
Senate: Crime Victims,
Crime & Corrections Comm.
Senate Codes Committee
Assembly Corrections Committee
Harvey Weisenberg email@example.com
Assembly Codes Committee