Misleading NY Post Attempts to Demonize Even Modest Rockefeller Reforms with Sensationalist Story That Gets Drug Laws Wrong

Press Release November 21, 2005
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Tony Newman at (646)335-5384

New York- The New York Post published a front page article today which falsely suggested that Rockefeller Drug Law reforms would enable people with murder convictions to be “set free.” What the Post failed to report was that the limited reforms regarding the drug sentences in no way give a judge the authority to change a sentence for a violent felony offense such as murder. The reality that must by known even by the New York Post is that people convicted of these offenses are not being released.

“The article is misleading because the people convicted of murder are not going to get out of prison under the Rockefeller Drug Law reforms,” said Bill Gibney of the Legal Aid Society. “If someone is serving time for another crime, especially a violent crime, they’ll have to serve that time. The small reforms to the Rockefeller Drug Law will not enable them to get out early.”

The reforms passed last year by the New York State Legislature allowed only those imprisoned for A1 felonies to apply for resentencing under the new sentencing guidelines. Thousands of people incarcerated because of possession of small amounts of drugs were not eligible for resentencing under the reforms.

“The Legislature and the Governor need to step up to the plate and show some political sensibility and backbone, said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “We’ve taken two steps forward with the small reforms, but we have ten steps to go, and the NY Post knows it.”

There is a growing wave towards repeal of the failed Rockefeller Drug Laws. This past November 7, Rockefeller Drug Law repeal candidate Gwen Wilkinson staged a remarkable upset over incumbent George Dentes in the Tompkins County District attorney race. This is the second year in a row that an incumbent DA has been defeated due in part to their support of the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws.

In a bitter fight last year, political upstart David Soares defeated incumbent Paul Clyne in the race for Albany County District Attorney, sending political shockwaves throughout the state. Soares sailed to victory on platform that included repealing the failed Rockefeller Drug Laws and calling for expanded judicial discretion. In his concession speech, Clyne said he would have won were it not for his longtime opponent to reform of the laws. In recent polls, over 83 percent of New York residents said they think the Rockefeller Drug Laws should be repealed.

“It’s one thing for The Post to propagandize with reckless disregard for the truth on its editorial page or with its headlines,” said Nadelmann. “But it’s not OK to do the same in its reporting. The Post’s coverage of the Soares/Clyne race for Albany DA last year was blatantly and deliberately dishonest, and now they seem to be reaching for new lows.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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