Rockefeller Drug Laws

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Disturbing the Universe: Radical Lawyer William Kunstler

The New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) Civil Rights Committee will host a screening of clips from the upcoming documentary, Disturbing the Universe: Radical Lawyer William Kunstler. The event is open to the public. The screening will be followed by a reception and discussion on how Mr. Kunstler's radical actions relate to contemporary civil rights issues. Speakers will be the film's co-directors, Mr. Kunstler's daughters, Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, Esq, and Michael Ratner, Esq., President of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Sponsor: NYCLA Civil Rights Committee Co-Sponsors: NYCLA's Labor Relations & Employment Law and Minorities & the Law Committees, Criminal Justice Section, and the Center for Constitutional Rights For more information visit www.nycla.org DIRECTIONS: NYCLA is located at 14 Vesey Street between Broadway and Church Street. St. Paul's Chapel is across the street. We are in lower Manhattan, near City Hall and the World Trade Center site. By Subway: 4, 5, J and M trains to Fulton Street station. 2, 3 trains to Park Place station. A, C and E trains to Chambers/WTC station. N & R trains to City Hall station. By Bus: Numbers 1, 6, 9, 22, 15 and 103 buses to City Hall, Fulton Street, Vesey Street area.
Date: 
Wed, 01/10/2007 - 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: 
14 Vesey Street Second Floor Lounge
New York, NY 10007
United States

Artist, Activist Tony Papa to Highlight Cruel Drug War with Art Installation in Oakland Nov. 9-11

For Immediate Release: November 4, 2006 Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Tommy McDonald (646) 335-2242 Artist, Activist Tony Papa to Highlight Cruel Drug War with Art Installation in Oakland Nov. 9-11 Show Visually Depicts Major Tragedies of Drug War: “Two Years for One Joint”; “HIV Due to Dirty Syringes”; “Racial Disparity of Drug War”; all on Display at Harm Reduction Conference in Oakland Papa Discovered Art in Prison and Painted His Way to Freedom after 12 Years Behind Bars Under Draconian Drug Laws Noted artist, activist and author Anthony Papa will highlight the casualties of the war on drugs at an art installation during the Harm Reduction Coalition conference in Oakland November 9-12 The Harm Reduction Coalition conference brings together hundreds of drug policy reform advocates from across the country to discuss effective public health approaches to dealing with drug use and misuse. The conference will take place November 9-12 at the Marriot hotel, Oakland City Center, 1001 Broadway, CA “The Drug War” is an art installation by artist/activist Anthony Papa. The installation is a multi-media presentation that visually portrays some of the most compelling drug war issues in the news. The visual narratives in the installation are powerful reminders of the raging war on drugs that ravages many of our communities. “The use of art as a political weapon is not new,” says Papa who discovered his political awareness through his art and has used his art as a vehicle to fight the drug war. “Through history, the role of the artist as a social commentator has been invaluable. Art is a great vehicle for expressing views to others in a way that is unmatched in any other media outlet for its truthfulness”. “Like Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and Goya’s ‘Third of May,’ which both powerfully portrayed the atrocities of war, my installation follows their lead in revealing the impact of America’s drug war.” Papa spent 12 years in prison for a first time non-violent drug offense. While imprisoned, he discovered his artistic talent. In 1995, after a showing of his art at the Whitney Museum, his case attracted national attention. Two years later, New York Governor George Pataki granted Papa executive clemency. Papa currently works for the Drug Policy Alliance. The installation highlights issues that affect all Americans, whether they use drugs or not. It is steeped in a continuous motif of an upside down American flag, which signifies the universal concept the state of distress in war. · “Justice in Black and White” shows the racial imbalance of the effects of the New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws. Ninety-four percent of those incarcerated under the laws are black and Latino. Ten crying babies dress in prison garb dangle in front of their incarcerated mothers and ask “where are our mothers?” · “Two Years in Jail for One Joint” shows the madness of the drug war. Mitchell Lawrence, an 18-year-old was sentenced to two years in jail for one joint by an over zealous prosecutor in Massachusetts. A single golden joint sits in a silver jewelry box surrounded by dozens of candles · “Give Them All Dirty Needles and Let Them Die” - taken from the cruel quote of TV’s “Judge Judy” - boldly illustrates how New Jersey is the only U.S. state that lacks a needle exchange program. Dozens of bloodied syringes penetrate a coffin draped with the New Jersey flag. · Part of the installation a marijuana plant asks the question who should decide what medicine we should put in our bodies – cops or doctors. · “Got a Cold? Prove it and Sign the Log” portrays the hoops Americans must now jump through to buy cold medicine due to the federal government’s desire to monitor our everyday actions in the name of the curbing the methamphetamine “epidemic.” Papa hopes the installation raises awareness for mainstream society who rarely think about the drug war. “I use my art as a means of visually translating the deep emotional responses of the human condition. My life choices forced me to discover my hidden artistic talent. In the same way I try to make that intuitive connection with the viewer by living through my work, breaking down barriers that separate us from truth.”
Location: 
United States

Sentencing: No Retroactive Relief for Rockefeller Drug Law Prisoners, New York Appeals Court Rules

People serving tough mid-level sentences under New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws will not be able to get those sentences reduced if they were convicted before drug sentencing reforms took effect in January 2005, the state's highest court ruled September 21. In its opinion in the consolidated cases of three men sentenced under the old laws, the court held that the legislature intended only to cut the sentences of those newly convicted.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/rockpataki.jpg
not enough: Gov. Pataki signs Rockefeller reform bill, 12/04
Under the Drug Law Reform Act that came into effect last year, some 400 prisoners facing the most severe sentences -- up to life -- were allowed to seek retroactive sentence cuts. But thousands of prisoners doing lesser, but still severe, sentences were not explicitly granted that right. Three of them -- Thomas Thomas Utsey, Michael Nelson and Corey Smith -- appealed to the Court of Appeals, arguing they should have had the same opportunity to seek retroactive redress.

But in a unanimous decision, the court said no way. The bill clearly stated that the law would "apply to crimes committed on or after the effective date," the court noted. "Under the plain language of the statute, the relevant provisions of the DLRA are intended to apply only to crimes committed after its effective date," Chief Judge Judith Kaye said in her decision. "That being so, defendants are not eligible for the reduced penalties contained in the new law."

It took years of dogged effort by a broad coalition of civil rights, prison reform, and drug reform groups to win even the partial reform that was approved in 2004. Now, the New York courts have strongly signaled that any further relief must come through that same cumbersome legislative process.

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