Deal Reported on Rockefeller Drug Law Reform


Not long after a large rally outside Governor Paterson’s Manhattan office urged the repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, the Times reports that Paterson and leaders in the state legislature have made a deal to reform those laws. The plan is said to allow “first-time nonviolent offenders in all but the most serious drug offenses” who plead guilty to be sentenced to treatment instead of prison, and to mandate review of their cases if treatment fails. Judges lost this sentencing option when the Rockefeller laws went into effect in the 1970s. Repeat offenders may also be sentenced to treatment, and some prisoners currently incarcerated under the old laws may have their sentences commuted. The deal has yet to be approved in legislative sessions; the relevant assembly and senate bills currently in review by their respective crime victims, crime & correction committees are here and here.