67 NY Prisoners Still Incarcerated Under Drug Laws
More than 40 years ago when President Nixon began the long-lasting war on drugs, then New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller signed a bill making those caught in possession of four or more ounces of cannabis, cocaine or heroin serve a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life. Marijuana was removed from this unjust policy in 1979 however, the officials within the New York Department of Corrections announced that the state has released all but 67 prisoners that were imprisoned under Rockefeller's Drug Laws.
Due to policy changes which eliminated Rockefeller’s mandatory minimum, 1,630 drug offenders that applied for early release have since been sent home. The 67 prisoners that remain are only still imprisoned because their offenses include either weapons possession or another major crime.
Fifteen years ago, at least 32 percent of the entire inmate population was doing time for drug crimes. Megan C. Kurlychek, a professor at SUNY Albany's school of criminal justice, said, "New York's Rockefeller drug laws were some of the toughest in the country. Relaxing those mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses has had a significant impact." Federal sentencing reform has been a hot topic in the past few weeks but apparently, there are states that are taking a more cautious approach to releasing non-violent drug offenders.