Negotiations Continue Over Reforming Rockefeller Drug Laws

Progress continues to be made by negotiators in the New York State Assembly and Senate seeking to reform the state’s harsh Rockefeller-era drug laws, the Associated Press reported June 3.

So far, the joint conference committee has initially agreed to reduce a mandatory minimum 15-years-to-life sentencing statute to three to 10 years.

Passage of the deal is contingent on changing the state’s mandatory sentencing laws for drug offenders who commit low-level “B” felonies. Currently, an individual charged with a B felony who has no prior nonviolent felony convictions automatically receives at least 4-1/2 to 9 years in state prison.

About 5,000 inmates are serving time for B felony drug offenses, more than double the number sentenced for A-1 and A-2 drug felonies.

The conference committee remains split on whether B-level drug offenders should be directed to treatment instead of prison, and if district attorneys should lose their authority to reject diversion of offenders to treatment programs.