In the year after New York State reformed the Rockefeller Drug Laws in 2009, which at the time included some of the country’s severest penalties for drug possession, the state saw a 35 percent increase in the number of defendants diverted to treatment, according to a new study by the Vera Institute of Justice.
In 2010, one out of five eligible defendants in New York City was enrolled in treatment, according to the study.
Researchers compared two samples of criminal defendants arrested in 2008 and 2010 for felony drug offenses or certain specified property charges.
Diversion was associated with lower recidivism, and a decrease in the number of defendants incarcerated or given a “split sentence,” a combination of jail and probation.
But researchers noted that rates of diversions varied widely across the city’s boroughs and diversion was not used in the majority of drug arrests.
And black and Hispanic defendants, who in 2008 were three times more likely than white defendants to receive a prison sentence, in 2010 were still twice as likely as whites to go to prison following a felony drug arrest.
Read the full report HERE.