New York Looks to Repeal “Rockefeller Laws”

New York State is moving to undo the Rockefeller era drug laws, which amongst other things, imposed tough minimum mandatory sentences for first time offenders. From the Washington Post:

Gov. David A. Paterson (D) and legislative leaders on Friday announced an agreement to roll back the state’s strict, 36-year-old drug laws, including eliminating tough mandatory minimum sentences for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders.

The “Rockefeller Drug Laws,” named after former governor Nelson Rockefeller (R), are among the strictest in the country and for critics have become a symbol of the failure of the “war on drugs,” which locked up large numbers of nonviolent drug offenders while having little apparent effect on drug use.

The agreement, announced in the state Capitol, follows a national shift away from criminal penalties to public health and treatment in America’s decades-old fight against illegal drug use.

What do you think? I do not have numbers but I would guess New York State has seen a huge spike in prison population because of the minimum mandatories. Is treatment better than incarceration? Is New York State doing the right thing by eliminating these laws. Should they spend billions on new prisons to house drug offenders, or is there a better way?

This entry was posted in National News, State News and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to New York Looks to Repeal “Rockefeller Laws”

  1. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    User: Rehabilitation with three strikes

    Dealer: 10 years first time.

    Distributors: 20 years then life.

    encourager: 1 year plus 3 strikes.

    Encourager is a person who draws someone into drugs without being a distributor or dealer, ie a friend.



  2. Fred Mertz says:

    We have 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s incarcerated population.

    Something seems amiss in the world’s freest country.

    I can’t find decent over all statistics, but a large percentage of our prison population (numbers from 30-50% I found) are non-violent first timers like the Rockefeller laws catch. Add up the court costs and incarceration costs, we’d be better off sending them to Harvard.

    Here’s some statistics from the ACLU. One that stands out: NYS will spend 600 million on non violent drug offenders in 2009. No wonder they’re looking for relief. You could almost close an MBTA budget gap with that kind of money.



  3. Bill Manzi says:

    Almost being the operative word there! The figures are staggering, and it does not make much sense from a financial or human point of view to keep in place laws that have failed so badly, and caused such misery.


  4. Jules Gordon says:


    ACLU?? There’s a non-bias group if I have heard one.

    Your Honor,

    We ahve been fighting the war on drugs for decades. We take a large amout of the prodution from many coutries such as Afganastan and Mexico.

    I see no solution based on usingt the police and justice system.

    Legalize the products? Tax them?

    Who knows??



  5. Jim says:

    There was an article in the Parade Magazine (Boston Globe) by Jim Webb this past Sunday citing some of those same statistics you noted (i.e. 1 in 31 adults in this country is in jail or on supervised release, and we imprison at a rate 5X the world’s average). Worth a read if you can find it…


  6. Jules Gordon says:

    Removing the law as a cost saving issue is one thing. There are drugged induced people driving as dangerously as alcoholics and who commit crimes to raise money to buy drugs.

    Can’t change the law without resolving the resulting consequences.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s