This spring's legislative session in New York is ending with no deal made on changes to the state's draconian drug laws. Despite a late-into-the-night session including Gov. Pataki, senate majority leader Joe Bruno (R-Brunswick), assembly speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and hip-hip impresario/activist Russell Simmons -- in which Simmons at one time physically blocked Bruno from leaving the room, according to the Daily News -- neither repeal nor reform will happen before the legislature adjourns for the summer.
The session also ended with not apparent resolution of a disagreement among advocates on strategy, with Mothers of the NY Disappeared and the Correctional Association of New York wanting a strong repeal approach but Simmons attempting to broker a compromise to get something passed this month.
Still, all parties to the effort signed on to a radio ad blitz, under the umbrella of the Countdown to Fairness coalition, asking listeners to call the governor and state legislature urging them to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The ads ran as follows:
"Thirty yeas ago New York Governor Rockefeller signed the harshest drug laws in the nation... imposing long mandatory minimum sentences for even low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. The result? Over-crowded prisons and no reduction in New York's drug problem. Thirty years have proven that prison cells are not the answer for these low-level offenders. Drug treatment costs less... is more effective... and keeps people from returning to prison. If the Governor and Legislature would fix these outdated laws, New York taxpayers could save over $250 million. For years Republicans and Democrats have promised change, but in three days they'll be on vacation... and they've still done nothing. Please join Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Mayor David Dinkins, Russell Simmons, The Mothers of the New York Disappeared and the Drug Policy Alliance... call Governor Pataki and your state legislators at (518) 474-8390. Urge them to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Law. Paid for by the Countdown for Fairness."
Gov. Pataki told the Daily News they would try again in September. DRCNet will continue to report on the Rockefeller effort. In the meantime, visit http://www.kunstler.org and http://www.droptherock.org and http://www.15yearstolife.com for continuing updates and action items.