The Campaign to Repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws

Print Friendly

Enacted in 1973, when Nelson Rockefeller was Governor of New York State, the Rockefeller Drug Laws require harsh prison terms for the possession or sale of relatively small amounts of drugs. The penalties apply without regard to the circumstances of the offense or the individual’s character or background, so whether the person is a first-time or repeat offender is irrelevant.

Despite the fanfare, changes to the laws passed in December 2004 and August 2005 do not amount to real reform. The severe aspects of these laws are still on the books. Mandatory sentencing provisions remain intact, meaning that judges still do not have discretion in deciding whether to send someone to prison or to an appropriate alternative-to-incarceration. Prison terms, though reduced, remain unduly long.

Download Fact Sheet