New York State Assembly to Take Up Bill on Monday, May 8 to Further Reform Rockefeller Drug Laws

Press Release May 4, 2006
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Gabriel Sayegh at 646-335-2264

On Monday, May 8th, the New York State Assembly is introducing legislation that would further reform New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, some of the nation’s harshest drug laws. Advocates and family members affected by these draconian laws will be in Albany demanding meaningful reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.

Assembly bill, A-8098, introduced by Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubrey, would expand drug treatment for nonviolent drug offenders, and continue sentencing reform by allowing certain people serving time for “B” felonies to apply for resentencing under the new reforms – a key piece missing in the 2004/2005 changes. The bill would also increase judicial discretion and allow for some people convicted of first- and second-time drug offenses to receive treatment and probation instead of prison.

New York’s Drug Law Reform Act of 2004 (DLRA) lowered some drug sentences but it fell short of allowing most people serving under the more punitive sentences to apply for shorter terms, and did not increase the power of judges to place addicts into treatment programs. While advocates and family members are encouraged by the modest reforms, they are clear that the latest reforms have no impact on the majority of people behind bars. Most people behind bars on Rockefeller charges are lower-level or class-B felons.

“The two small reforms initiated by the legislature have not provided the needed relief for the vast majority of Rockefeller offenders. My son Ashley is a prime example of this. He is serving a 7 to 21 year sentence for a first time nonviolent offense,” said Cheri O’Donoghue. “Our legislative leaders need to pass meaningful reform that will provide relief to the thousands of B-class felons serving time under the Rockefeller Drug Laws. In the long run, we need the full repeal of these inhumane drug laws.”

What: Press conference to announce Assembly Bill A-8098
When: Monday, May 8, 2006 at 12:45 pm
Where: Speakers Conference Room
Who: Legislators, Cheri O’Donoghue, mother of inmate serving 7 to 21 years for first-time, non-violent drug offense under Rockefeller Drug Laws; Tony Papa, ex-non-violent drug offender, who served 12 years under Rockefeller Drug Laws.

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

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