New York City’s prosecutor for narcotics contends that the revisions in the state’s Rockefeller drug laws, benefited major drug traffickers more than the low-level offenders they were supposed to help, the New York Times reports. A year and a half after the legislature revised the laws in an effort to reduce harsh prison sentences for low-level offenders, a study by prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan examined 84 drug offenders prosecuted by her office who have asked for resentencing since the laws were changed in 2004. The study found that judges granted lower sentences to 65 of them; 22, or about 34 percent, were either what she called “kingpins,” leaders of international drug organizations, or “major traffickers,” that is, leaders of local drug operations that moved large quantities of narcotics.
Of the kingpins and major traffickers, 16 were granted relief from lifetime parole, and four of them have been released, she said. Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, which has long lobbied for reforms in the drug laws enacted in the administration of Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, did not dispute that there were very few low-level offenders caught up in the life-sentence provisions of the Rockefeller laws. He said there were roughly 14,500 other drug offenders locked up for lesser terms at the time the reforms took effect, and those prisoners did not benefit from the changes. Advocates are still seeking changes that would help those offenders.