The State Assembly is expected to vote today to repeal the mandatory sentencing laws known as the Rockefeller Drug Laws; passed in 1973, the laws require judges to sentence even minor drug offenders to extremely long prison terms. According to the Times, the Assembly’s proposal would restore judges’ discretion in sentencing lower-level drug possession crimes, enabling them to send some offenders to treatment programs instead of prison. The measure would also permit about 2,000 prisoners to apply to have their sentences reconsidered. A growing coalition has long called for the laws' repeal, but only now, with the Senate in Democratic hands for the first time since 1965, is repeal within reach. Senate Democrats are expected to debate the issue tonight, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver tells the Times, "I think the stars are aligned."In a statement, the NYCLU praised the bill as an "essential first step," but criticized it for still permitting (though not requiring) "unreasonably harsh maximum sentences for low-level, non-violent drug offenses."
State Assembly Set to Repeal Rockefeller Drug Laws
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