Commission Recommends NY Drug Law Reform


A state commission has recommended changing New York’s drug laws to emphasize addiction treatment for low-level offenders and reserve long prison terms for high-risk criminals, although some lawmakers don’t think the suggested reforms went far enough, according to the Associated Press. The Commission on Sentencing Reform studied the issue for nearly two years before releasing a report Tuesday calling for simplified sentencing rules and drug law reform that would give judges more discretion when sentencing addicts. New York’s strict drug laws have long been controversial. Reform of the ’70s-era “Rockefeller drug laws” in 2004 led to fewer offenders going to prison because more drug treatment is available. Now many lawmakers and lobbyists want more change. “I think all three players have the will to do something,” said Sen. Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat. “The governor is serious, and the Assembly is serious, and I can assure you we’re serious.” According to the commission, if their proposed model of judicial diversion had been put in place in 2006, roughly 3,000 offenders — 89 percent of them black or Hispanic — might have been spared prison and steered instead toward treatment. That could save the state money in a period of massive budget deficits.

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