Rockefeller Drug Laws

A discussion of the need to remove the Rockefeller Drug Laws from the New York State penal code.

This paper examines the Rockefeller Drug Laws and, in particular, discusses the need for their reform. Supporting information is presented to show that these laws, which require vary harsh prison terms for the sale of small quantities of drugs, are disproportionate to the nature of the crime. It looks at how these laws are over thirty years old and were originally passed during Nelson Rockefeller?s administration in the 1970s, when drug use was associated with antiwar demonstrations, hippies, and ?flower power?. This paper reviews the laws, discusses the negative impact of these laws on the individual as well as the state, and discusses the alternatives to these laws and the current political climate regarding these laws.
“The Rockefeller Drug Laws have often been referred to as harsh, draconian legislation that caused more harm than good. According to the Campaign for Effective Criminal Justice (CECJ), “these laws have forced the incarceration of tens of thousands of non-violent, addicted individuals who use or sell small quantities of drugs, and condemned hundreds of offenders who are not major drug kingpins to prison sentences as long or even longer than those imprisoned for murder or rape. These laws deprive children of their parents, waste enormous human and financial resources, and fail to address effectively the addiction that underlies most drug offenses” (CECJ, 2002).”