Drop the Rock Campaign Carries on 30th Anniversary of Signing of New York’s Drug Laws

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Despite drug law reform being a main issue in last year’s governor’s race, despite Governor Pataki once again calling for change in his January State of the State speech, no real movement has taken place on this issue. The governor has put out reform proposals, as have legislative leaders. One prominent legislator, Jeffrion Aubry, Chair of the New York State Assembly’s Committee on Corrections, has proposed a repeal bill (A-852), the plan supported by the Correctional Association of New York. Negotiations on these various proposals among Albany policy makers have failed to produce an agreement. The drug laws remain a blot on New York’s penal code and continue to do their damage, particularly to poor inner city communities of color.

Along with our many allies, we continue to coordinate the state-wide Drop the Rock campaign to repeal the drug laws. Here is what we are doing in the coming months.

The Message At presentations all over the city and some places upstate, at churches and college campuses and community group settings, we articulate the same damning mantra: Given that the Rockefeller Drug Laws have been in effect for three decades, we have convincing evidence by now that they are wasteful, ineffective, unjust, and marked by racial bias. We say wasteful because there are over 18,300 people convicted of drug crimes locked up in New York State, mostly low-level, non-violent people, at the yearly operating cost of nearly $590 million. We say ineffective because research and experience tell us that treatment is not only cheaper than imprisonment but also more successful in reducing the crime associated with the drug trade. We say unjust because these laws often catch in their net men and women with no criminal history, with no tendency toward predatory behavior, and send them to prison for minimum terms of 15 years to life. And we say racist because, though research shows that the majority of people who use and sell drugs are white, about 93% of the people locked up in New York State for the sale or possession of narcotics are people of color–African American or Latino.

StaffJulie Ebenstein and Sanaz Mozafarian work on a part-time basis to coordinate the efforts of the Drop the Rock campaign. They are talented and dedicated, and we are lucky to have them.

May 8th Along with the Mothers of the New York Disappeared and other organizations, we are planning major public activities for Thursday, May 8th, the 30th anniversary of the signing of these notorious statutes by then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Current plans include a late morning march from Rockefeller Center in Manhattan to Governor Pataki’s New York City office on E. 40th Street and 3rd Avenue, where the Mothers of the New York Disappeared are staging a rally from noon on.

The Correctional Association and Drop the Rock campaign are committed to carrying out efforts promoting repeal of New York’s drug laws until the goal is accomplished. To repeat what we have said before: We will not stop