Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer joins New York State Assemblymen Peter Rivera and Jeffrion Aubry and Latino Health and Justice Coalition leaders to call on Governor George Pataki to support the New York State Assembly's plan for Rockefeller Drug Law Reform this year during the planned upcoming special legislative session.
"The time for major reform is now," said Ferrer. "New York voters are ready for Governor Pataki to deliver on the promise he made almost a year ago. The Assembly's plan will bring about true reform, which is what all New Yorkers are counting on."
"One important way for Governor Pataki to address his special concerns for the Latino community is to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws and to address the twin epidemics of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS," added Rivera. "Tens of millions of dollars have been wasted in locking up Latinos with drug use problems rather than offering them needed drug treatment or harm reduction services," said Lorraine Cortez-Vazquez, president of the Hispanic Federation." Dennis Deleon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS added, "The Governor knows what to do."
"I am pleased to be with the Bronx Borough President, my colleague Peter Rivera and so many other leaders in calling on Governor Pataki to complete reform on the Rockefeller Drug Laws this year. The Assembly proposal clearly emphasizes the belief that rehabilitation is preferable to incarceration. This proposal is fair, effective, and cost efficient," said Aubry.
State legislators may be called to meet on December 17 for a special session to resolve legislative issues that were on hold as a result of the events of September 11th. The session will give Governor Pataki the opportunity to make good on his promise of meaningful reform of these laws, which are among the harshest mandatory minimum drug laws in the nation. Critics say the Rockefeller Drug Laws are draconian and discriminatory. Despite research demonstrating that drug use levels are roughly the same across all demographic groups, Latinos and African-Americans account for 94% of those incarcerated for drug offenses in the state. WHO:
Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer
New York State Assemblyman Peter Rivera, Chair of the State Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force
New York State Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry
Representatives of the Latino Health and Justice Coalition WHEN:
Thursday, December 6, 11:00 AM WHERE:
New York City Hall Steps
In addition to the press conference, a major Spanish-language television and print advertising campaign will be launched this week in popular media outlets around New York. The campaign calls on the Governor to work with legislative and community leaders to effectuate meaningful reform: "Governor Pataki, the time to fulfill your promise of dramatic Rockefeller drug law reform is now. Latino families are watching. By reconstructing lives we will reconstruct New York."
The television ads will begin a week run on Friday, December 7, on Univision, Telemundo, and New York 1. The print ads began running today in Hoy and El Diario, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in New York, and other community newspapers.
While the Governor has issued his own plan for drug law reform, critics are concerned that his plan:
- Maintains the relatively low weight threshold of a narcotic mandating a life sentence
- Would only allow retroactive sentencing modification for less than 3% of those currently incarcerated for drug offenses
- Lacks funding to accommodate diversion into drug treatment.