In a surprise move, the New York Post editorialized Monday in support of repealing the Empire State's draconian Rockefeller drug laws. The Post, a right-leaning tabloid, has previously supported the Rockefeller laws, both editorially and in its reporting.
"George Pataki needs to call a special session of the Legislature, with one simple objective: The repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, effective now," the Post wrote.
What finally got the Post to write, "OK, we surrender?" Typically, the tabloid was unconcerned about the disparate racial impact of the Rockefeller laws -- more than 90% of those sentenced under them are non-white -- or the screaming injustice of sentencing people to decades in prison for nonviolent crimes. No, it was misplaced outrage at the light sentence given to a well-connected young college drug dealer, "Pot Princess" Julia Diaco, as the Post labeled her. (In an op-ed three days earlier, Post columnist Andrea Peyser called her "a defiant little outlaw" and a "fledgling college drug lord.")
"We have always been skeptical of the movement to eliminate the quote-draconian-unquote drug laws," the Post noted, adding that it's better that "muggers, thugs, and thieves" are in prison than on the street. "Yet, a main argument for repealing the Rockefeller laws was that -- in practice -- they created a double standard, with sentences sometimes driven by race, class and other subjective factors. Well, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon gave that argument a big boost with the plea deal he signed off on Thursday for Diaco, a former NYU student," the Post complained. "For selling pot, cocaine and psychedelic mushrooms on eight separate occasions to undercover cops, Diaco gets some quality downtime in Idaho for 'rehab.' Not a day of prison time."
As if it had suddenly become aware of inequality and injustice in the drug war, the Post found itself disillusioned by the Diaco case. "So, why continue the charade?" it asked. "Scrap the Rockefeller laws. Little Miss Tokehead's slap on the wrist is a little too much to bear, if equal justice before the law is to mean anything in New York."
If not sending an 18-year-old student dorm dealer to prison for decades is what it takes to break the Post's support of the Rockefeller drug laws, so be it.
Read the editorial, "Getting
Rid of Rockefeller," online at: