NY Drug Laws: Big Changes Ahead

A few months ago we posted an entry about how the N.Y. Criminal Sentencing Commission came up with nothing remarkable in their analysis of the archaic Rockefeller Drug Laws. Their input, it seemed, would do little to change the laws on the books. Now, however, things are looking quite different.

Last week, according to this report from the Washington Post, New York Governor David A. Patterson and leaders in the state legislature came to agreement that changes must be made to the disaster that has become New York drug policy. Sweeping changes are expected over the next year, making treatment more widely available and prison time a slim chance for non-violent and particularly first-time drug offenders.

Currently, New York has some of the harshest drug laws in the nation, often putting non-violent drug addicted offenders away for lengthy sentences that only contribute to recidivism. Now, however, states across the country realize the importance of treatment and rehabilitation if we are to keep drug offenders clean and out of trouble on a long term basis.

Budget issues, no doubt, have a role in this as the cost of imprisoning someone is extremely high and budgets are extremely tight right now. Once the changes occur, some offenders currently serving sentences may be eligible for release, freeing up the overcrowded prison system and also the money that goes along with it.

In particular, the action will repeal mandatory sentences for first time, non violent drug offenders. This means that judges will have more say in the sentences they impose and they will also have more flexibility as well. First time offenders can benefit greatly from treatment programs and community alternatives that help them to kick a drug habit and these changes will increase the chances of providing just that.

Facing a drug charge under the current laws can be extremely frightening; whether you are a first time offender or even if you have a history in the system. When up against the New York drug laws you need an experience defense attorney. Call us to discuss a drug charge or other criminal case in New York state today.

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