Paterson Signs Rockefeller Reform Bill
April 24th, 2009
This morning Gov. David Paterson signed the bill that drastically reforms the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The Assembly passed its own version of the reform bill earlier this year but Democrats quickly decided they would negotiate a different bill and tuck it into the budget package because it was unlikely they could get the bill through the Senate. A release from Paterson’s office follows:
Governor David A. Paterson signed into law sweeping reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The reforms, which were enacted as part of the 2009-10 budget, eliminate the harsh sentences that the Rockefeller Drug Laws mandated by giving judges total authority to divert non-violent addicts to treatment and greatly expanding drug treatment programs. The law strikes a careful and appropriate balance to ensure that non-violent addicted offenders get the treatment they need while predatory kingpins get the punishment they deserve.
Governor Paterson held the ceremonial signing at Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities, Inc., a New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) funded drug treatment facility in Queens surrounded by legislative leaders, advocates and members of the law enforcement community.
“This is a proud day for me and so many of my colleagues who have fought for so long to overhaul the drug laws and restore judicial discretion in narcotics cases,” said Governor Paterson. “For years, thousands of New Yorkers have spoken out against the Rockefeller Drug Laws. At times, the odds seemed insurmountable but we stood together and fought together on behalf of the millions of everyday New Yorkers and their families who were harmed by these laws.”
“Today, we have succeeded. With a stroke of a pen, the regime of the Rockefeller Drug Laws will end. We are reforming these laws to treat those who suffer from addiction and to punish those who profit from it,” added Governor Paterson. “But to be successful we must not only overhaul the drug laws, we must also provide an infrastructure to ensure that we successfully rehabilitate those who are addicted with programs like this one at Elmcor which exemplifies our approach to focus on treatment, not punishment.”
The laws will give judges the discretion to divert non-violent drug addicted individuals to treatment alternatives that are shown to be far more successful than prison in ending the cycle of addiction. Crucially, it also commits tens of millions of dollars to existing and new treatment programs.
There are three significant pieces of the new laws. First, they create a drug treatment program to be administered by drug court judges. Second, the agreement relieves new offenders from some of the old Rockefeller Drug Law’s mandatory sentencing provisions and provides opportunities for additional relief to some offenders who remain incarcerated under the old laws. Third, the agreement ensures that offenders who are not addicted, but who profit from the addictions of others, are appropriately sentenced to State prison.
The Governor believes that law enforcement should target drug kingpins instead of low-level drug users and this law creates a new drug “kingpin” offense that targets organized drug traffickers who profit from and prey on drug users. The law also creates new crimes to ensure that adults who sell drugs to children are appropriately required to serve time in State prison.By David King on April 24, 2009, 11:27 am
In category: Albany, Eye on Albany | 7 Comments »