Dani McClain at 212-548-0611 or Tony Newman at 510-208-7711
This Father’s Day, thousands of New York children remain separated from fathers who are serving excessively long mandatory sentences for drug offenses under the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
Highlighting this injustice, the Campaign for Effective Criminal Justice (CECJ), an organization of over a dozen distinguished leaders in law enforcement, politics, business, and clergy intent on reforming New York’s drug sentencing laws, is launching an ad campaign calling on Governor Pataki to support the State Assembly’s plan for Rockefeller reform. The first ad highlights the case of Jose Estrella, who is serving a 7 years to life sentence for a non-violent drug crime and is one of the many fathers who would not have the possibility of sentencing relief under Governor Pataki’s plan.
The ad will circulate in Spanish in El Diario on Friday, June 15th, and again on Father’s Day, June 17th. An English version will circulate in the Albany-based Legislative Gazette on Monday, June 18th.
Many prominent officials and community leaders, including the late John Cardinal O’Connor and former U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, have called for immediate reform of these harsh drug laws. In January, Governor Pataki pledged to sign “dramatic” change into law. But the governor’s proposed legislation falls well short of his promise, leaving 97% of those already serving excessively long sentences with absolutely no hope of relief.
The alternate bill proposed by the New York State Assembly, however, expands the ability of judges to divert appropriate offenders into court-supervised drug treatment and allows for more fair and comprehensive reevaluation of the sentencing of currently incarcerated non-violent drug offenders.
As further evidence of advocacy efforts for meaningful change in New York’s drug laws, hundreds will gather for a massive teach-in at the Harlem State Office Building this Friday, June 15th from 3-6pm. One of the major themes discussed will be “Where have all the fathers gone?” The answer in too many cases is that they are serving mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenses.