Rockefeller Drug Laws

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Drop the Rock Empowerment Day

New York's criminal justice policies shape the society we live in and for too long the Rockefeller Drug Laws have had the effect of criminalizing addiction and poverty, devastating families and communities, and supporting the racially biased war on drugs. The Rockefeller Drug Laws are the most notorious example of our flawed and racist way of administering justice. In an innovative initiative, volunteers from across New York City and State will come together to challenge these laws' continuing legacy by building political power in communities that are heavily impacted by incarceration. On Saturday, October 4th, in neighborhoods across the city and state, teams of community members, formerly incarcerated people, and families will come together to educate the public about the Rockefeller Drug Laws, gather petition signatures calling for their repeal, and register New Yorkers to vote. Be a part of this statewide grassroots event, and help us reach thousands of New Yorkers. Please volunteer to carry out this work in one of our target neighborhoods between 10am - 2pm on Empowerment Day, Saturday, October 4th. To sign up, reply to [email protected] with your name, email, daytime telephone number, and neighborhood choice. We will contact you with all relevant details shortly. Together, we can engage more New Yorkers in the movement for repeal, strengthen our call for change, and hold policy makers accountable to the communities most affected by the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Learn more about Drop the Rock and sign the petition for repeal by clicking here: http://www.droptherock.org/?page_id=37 For more information, visit http://www.droptherock.org or contact Caitlin Dunklee, Drop the Rock Coordinator, at 212-254-5700 x 339 or [email protected] Thank you for your commitment to justice. Drop the Rock!
Date: 
Sat, 10/04/2008 - 10:00am - 2:00pm
Location: 
NY
United States

Drop the Rock Coalition Meeting

Join the campaign to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws! The Rockefeller Drug Laws: Ineffective, Unjust, Wasteful, Marked by Racial Bias. - Despite so-called reforms, more drug offenders have been sent to state prison in 2007 than in 2006, 2005 and in 2004. - Over 13,000 people remain behind bars serving time under the Rockefeller Drug Laws. - Studies show that the majority of people who use and sell drugs are white, however 90% of people incarcerated under the Rockefeller Drug Laws are African-American and Latino. - Research continues to prove that drug treatment is less expensive than incarceration. It is also more effective in reducing crime and helping people overcome addiction. Repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws Now! Drop the Rock supports the repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. - Restore sentencing discretion to trial judges in all drug cases. - Significantly reduce sentence lengths for drug offenses. - Ensure changes in the drug laws apply to those already incarcerated. - Increase funding for alternatives to incarceration including drug treatment, education and job training. Join us for our next Drop the Rock Coalition meeting. Help us plan upcoming advocacy and educational events. To get involved call Caitlin Dunklee, Drop the Rock Coordinator at 212-254-5700 x339 or email her at [email protected]. For more information, see: http://www.droptherock.org/.
Date: 
Thu, 06/05/2008 - 6:00pm
Location: 
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., Suite 200
New York, NY
United States

Important news about the Rockefeller Drug Laws

[Courtesy of Drug Policy Alliance] Dear Friends: Back in February, I wrote you about our efforts to create a new paradigm in New York, an approach to drug policy that is centered in public health, not prison politics. Many of us have worked together in this effort. We agreed that getting rid of the failed Rockefeller Drug Laws is not enough—New York needs a coordinated drug policy guided by public health principles that will save taxpayer dollars while enhancing safety in our communities. I write you now to let you know about an important development in this effort: The New York State Assembly has taken the first step towards heeding our call. On Monday, the Assembly announced an unprecedented joint hearing on Rockefeller Drug Laws and the future of drug policy in New York. The joint hearing is being convened by six Assembly Committees: Codes, Corrections, Judiciary, Health, Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and Social Services. We know of no other time that this has ever happened in New York, making this an unprecedented opportunity for us to advance our cause. The hearing announcement is enclosed. There are two hearings: the first on May 8th – the 35th anniversary of the Rockefeller Drug Laws – in New York City, and a second one on May 15th in Rochester. This is a remarkable opportunity to let the Assembly know that we want not only reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, but to shift the discussion of drug use and abuse from a criminal justice framework to one of public health. The Assembly hearing announcement states that “Drug addiction is a treatable disease, so among issues raised is whether a system that focuses on preventing and treating drug addiction rather than simply incarcerating individuals will result in a reduction in the use and sale of drugs – something mandatory imprisonment laws have failed to accomplish.” There are four things you can do now to get involved: 1. Sign up to testify at the hearings in New York City or Rochester. Can you testify at one of the hearings in New York or in Rochester? If you would like to testify at the hearing, please contact us and we will help you apply to testify and make your voice heard. Not everyone will be able to testify, which is why we are going to hold a rally outside the hearings on May 8 in NYC (see below). 2. If you are in NYC on May 8, join us at a rally for Public Health, not Prison Politics. Please join us and hundreds of other New Yorkers on May 8th for a rally outside 250 Broadway, the location of the hearing in New York City. We will call on the Assembly to go beyond Rockefeller and treat drug use and abuse in New York State as a public health issue. Details to follow next week. 3. Send this message to three other people. Let your friends, family, and co-workers know about the hearings. 4. Join our Legislator Education Teams: Drug Policy Alliance is spearheading a project to meet with every New York State Legislator from the New York City area. Want to talk with your elected representatives about the Rockefeller Drug Laws? Come join us on May 5, 2008, from 6 – 7:30 for the training to learn how to be part of the Education Teams. The training is free and there will be food. After the training, you can join one of our education teams in New York City. For more info, please email Jill Battagline at [email protected], or call 212-613-8053. That’s it. If you have any questions, please email me directly. Thanks for all you do. Onward, Gabriel ----------------------------------------------------------------- Gabriel Sayegh Director, State Organizing and Policy Project Drug Policy Alliance 70 West 36th Street, 16th Fl. New York, NY 10018 (212) 613-8048 ph. (212) 613-8021 fax www.drugpolicy.org
Location: 
NY
United States

Drop the Rock Coalition Meeting

For more info, contact Caitlin Dunklee at [email protected], or see www.correctionalassociation.org.
Date: 
Thu, 04/03/2008 - 7:00pm
Location: 
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. at 123rd Street, Suite 200A
New York, NY 10027
United States

Tele-Press Conference: NY Rockefeller Drug Laws

New York State Commission on Sentencing Reform is debating overhauling the Rockefeller Drug Laws this week. Dozens of advocacy and community groups have united to reject half-steps and are demanding real reform. Please join leading advocates and family members at this tele-press conference to release a coalition statement to the Commission. The press release is at http://stopthedrugwar.org/in_the_trenches/2007/aug/27/press_release_tues... Call in information: 800-311-9404; Passcode: 740815 Some of the participants include: Cheri O’Donoghue, Prison Family Community Forum member and mother of a young man locked up for 7–21 years on a first-time, B-felony offense. Anita Marton, Legal Director, Legal Action Center Tony Papa, Communications Specialist, Drug Policy Alliance; author; and formerly incarcerated under the Rockefeller Drug Laws Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union Howard Josepher, Executive Director, Exponents Treatment Program
Date: 
Tue, 08/28/2007 - 11:00am
Location: 
New York, NY
United States

Press Release: Tuesday (8/28/07) 11 am Teleconference: Rockefeller Reform Advocates Weigh in as NY State Commission on Sentencing Reform Votes on First Round of Recommendations

For Immediate Release: August 27, 2007 Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Jennifer Carnig (212) 607-3363 New York State Commission on Sentencing Reform Debates Rockefeller Drug Law Overhaul This Week Dozens of Advocacy, Community Groups Unite to Reject Half-Steps, Demand Real Reform Tuesday 11 am: Leading Advocates and Family Members Join Tele-Press Conference to Release Coalition Statement on Commission What: Tele-Press Conference When: Tuesday, August 28, 2007. 11 a.m. Call in information: 800-311-9404; Passcode: 740815 Who: Cheri O’Donoghue, Prison Family Community Forum member and mother of a young man locked up for 7 – 21 years on a first-time, B-felony offense. Anita Marton, Legal Director, Legal Action Center Tony Papa, Communications Specialist, Drug Policy Alliance; author; and formerly incarcerated under the Rockefeller Drug Laws Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union Howard Josepher, Executive Director, Exponents Treatment Program New York— This week, the New York State Commission on Sentencing Reform will vote on its first round of recommendations, before releasing a preliminary report of findings to the public in October. The Commission, enacted by Governor Elliot Spitzer through Executive Order, is charged with reviewing New York’s sentencing structure, sentencing practices, community supervision, and the use of alternatives to incarceration. The Rockefeller Drug Laws, including the Second Felony Offender Act, are high on the Commission’s priority list. The Real Reform Coalition - made up of advocates, academics, activists, families and individuals impacted by the Rockefeller Drug Laws – has been monitoring the Commission closely. Tomorrow, the Coalition will release an open letter to the Commission highlighting what constitutes meaningful reform. Signatories include the leading criminal justice, alternatives to incarceration, and drug treatment advocates in New York, along with families and community members directly impacted by the unjust laws. The leading opponents to reform are some prosecutors who are terrified of losing their power through additional changes in the law. They have been using skewed politically motivated reports to derail reform efforts. The Rockefeller Drug Laws, enacted in 1973 under Governor Nelson Rockefeller, mandate extremely harsh prison terms for the possession or sale of relatively small amounts of drugs. Supposedly intended to target major dealers (kingpins), most of the people incarcerated under these laws are convicted of low-level, nonviolent offenses, and many of them have no prior criminal records. Despite modest reforms in 2004 and 2005, the Rockefeller Drug Laws continue to deny people serving under the more punitive sentences to apply for shorter terms, and does not increase the power of judges to place addicts into treatment programs. Currently, more than 14,000 people are locked up for drug offenses in New York State prisons, representing nearly 38 percent of the prison population and costing New Yorkers hundreds of millions of dollars every year. “My son did not benefit from the so-called reforms of 2004,” said Cheri O’Donoghue, who’s son, Ashley, is incarcerated for 7 – 21 years on a first-time, nonviolent offense. “When do families like ours finally get justice? The Commission’s mandate is clear—the status quo has failed, and we need comprehensive reform.” “There is tremendous support in New York for real reform,” said Gabriel Sayegh, project director at Drug Policy Alliance. “The so-called reforms of 2004 were a half-step forward, but New Yorkers understand it was not enough. As the Rockefeller Drug Laws continue, so do racial disparities, sentencing disparities, and lack of drug treatment alternatives.” Real reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws requires four key elements: restoration of judicial discretion in all drug cases; the expansion of alternative-to-incarceration (ATI) programs, including community based treatment; reductions in the length of sentences for all drug offenses; and retroactive sentencing relief for all prisoners currently incarcerated under the Rockefeller Drug Laws. “Under its drug-sentencing laws New York State has perpetrated one of the great civil rights injustices of our time,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The state’s Rockefeller Drug Laws have come to mean a law that is unfair, unjust and cruel; that is destructive, not rehabilitative; that is enforced with a blatant racial and ethnic bias. We hear much these days about an era of reform in Albany – reform of the state’s drug laws is a good place to start.”
Location: 
New York, NY
United States

Drug War Prisoners: Rockefeller Law Victim Turned Activist Veronica Flournoy Dead at 39

Former New York Rockefeller drug law victim turned reformer Veronica Flournoy died last week of lung cancer in a Florida hospice. Flournoy, 39, a heavy drug user in her younger years, was snagged in an undercover drug operation and sentenced to eight years to life under New York's draconian Rockefeller laws.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/veronicaflournoy.jpg
Veronica Flournoy, with NY Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, daughters Candace and Keeshana and mother Eileen (courtesy kunstler.org)
Flournoy served her minimum sentence, then collected her two young children and tried to begin life anew with her family. But the lung cancer, which appeared while she was in prison and which prison doctors told her not to worry about, left her with little time.

Prison opened Flournoy's eyes to the injustice of the drug war, and she never forgot her fellow prisoners. Flournoy participated in rallies designed to pressure polticians to undo the Rockefeller laws and even consented to using her terminal illness in a move to heighten the pressure. She appeared in a February public service announcement sponsored by the William Moses Kunstler Fund aimed at Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) and other state politicians who have been slow to act on vows to reform the state's harsh drug laws.

Good-Bye: One Woman Drug War Victim Dies, Another is About To

Two women victims of the drug war on our minds this week, one who went all the way to the Supreme Court and won, only to be murdered a few days ago, and one who suffered long years in prison under New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws and won her freedom, only to be vanquished by a cancer that grew untreated while she was behind bars.

Down in Deltona, Florida, Rockefeller drug law prisoner turned reform advocate Veronica Flournoy is in a hospice surrounded by family as she lies dying of cancer. The pains in her chest that prison doctors told her to ignore turned out to be lung cancer, which has now spread to her brain. She is 39.

When she was sent to prison doing eight-to-life, Flournoy already had a two-year-old daughter. Her second child was born in prison. When she got out, she collected her children and for an all too brief time was able to enjoy life with her family.

But she didn't forget the women she left behind in prison. She turned up at drug reform rallies. And she continues to fight the good fight. Even as she now lies dying, a public service announcement urging New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer (D) to live up to his promise to reform the Rockefeller laws is airing.

Meanwhile, in Columbia, South Carolina, Crystal Ferguson, the poor, black woman jailed for testing positive for cocaine when she gave birth to a daughter at a Charleston hospital in 1991, was killed along with one daughter in an arson fire last month. Another daughter, Virginia, the one born in 1991, was away at camp. Ferguson's lawsuit against the hospital, Ferguson v. City of Charleston, South Carolina, resulted in a finding that the drug testing of pregnant women without their consent amounted to an illegal search. The case also brought the complex issues of race, class, pregnancy, and drug use to national attention.

After the Supreme Court victory, Ferguson faded back into the shadow, quietly raising her two daughters in a mobile home in a modest neighborhood. Her surviving daughter, Virginia, told the State newspaper she didn't like to talk about her mother's case, but that her efforts to get out of a life of poverty had inspired her. "All you see is either homeless people or something. Nobody wants to try. She wasn't like that. She wanted to try," Virginia said. "But I guess it didn't work out."

Both will be missed.

Real Reform New York Coalition: Screening and Discussion of "Lockdown, USA," a New Documentary about the Rockefeller Drug Laws

For Immediate Release: June 12, 2007 Contact: Douglas Greene, T: 516-242-4666, E: [email protected] Screening and Discussion of “Lockdown, USA,” a New Documentary Film about the Rockefeller Drug Laws on Thursday, June 14 Advocates and Family Members Join Together to Demand Gov. Spitzer and Senate Majority Leader Bruno Keep Their Word and Enact REAL REFORM of New York’s Draconian and Inhumane Drug Laws Before Session Ends Next Thursday New York-- On Thursday, June 14, advocates for Real Reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws and parents of Rockefeller Drug Law prisoners will be discussing Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s failure to act on Rockefeller Drug Law reform as the legislative session enters its final week. Following the legislative update and comments from parents of Rockefeller drug law prisoners, there will be a screening of a new documentary about the Rockefeller Drug Laws, called Lockdown, USA. The screening is being sponsored by the Real Reform New York Coalition, Cures not Wars and the Drug Policy Alliance. The evening will conclude with a stand-up comedy performance by Randy Credico, Director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, who is featured in the film. Assembly Bill 6663-A, which was passed by the Assembly on April 18, 2007, would expand drug treatment for people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, and continue sentencing reform by allowing certain people serving time for “B” felonies to apply for resentencing—a key piece missing in changes to the law made in 2004 and 2005. The bill would also increase judicial discretion and allow for some people convicted of first- and second-time drug offenses to receive treatment and probation instead of prison. Companion Senate Bill 4352-A is stuck in the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Bruno and Gov. Spitzer have other legislative priorities before session ends on June 21. “The last small reform to the Rockefeller Drug Laws was clearly not enough. My son Ashley is a prime example of this, because he is serving a 7 to 21 year sentence for a first time, nonviolent offense,” said Cheri O’Donoghue, who will be speaking. “Senate Majority Leader Bruno, Speaker Silver, and Governor Spitzer have all promised real reform. The Assembly has acted—where are the Senate and the Governor? These inhumane, racist laws have been around for over 34 years, and enough is enough.” New York’s Drug Law Reform Act of 2004 (DLRA) lowered some drug sentences but it fell far short of allowing most people serving under the more punitive sentences to apply for shorter terms, and did not increase the power of judges to place addicts into treatment programs. While advocates and family members are encouraged by the modest reforms, they are clear that the recent reforms have no impact on the majority of people behind bars. Most people behind bars on Rockefeller charges are charged with nonviolent lower-level or class-B felonies. Advocates and family members of Rockefeller Drug Law prisoners will be screening Lockdown, USA, a new documentary which follows the unlikely coalition working to change the Rockefeller Drug Laws: outraged mothers and community members, formerly incarcerated people, hip-hop community leaders, and many more. The documentary, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in May 2006 and has screened at film festivals around the world, captures the series of events that forced the political establishment to reconcile with the burgeoning movement to repeal the draconian, racist Rockefeller Drug Laws. Hip-hop megastar and multi-platinum artist Jim Jones released “Lockdown, USA,” a single about the Rockefeller Drug Laws, on May 8, 2007, the 34th anniversary of the Laws. What: Discussion about the Rockefeller Drug Laws and legislative status of reform bills with Real Reform advocates and families of Rockefeller Drug Law prisoners; Screening of Lockdown, USA follows; Stand-up comedy performance by Randy Credico When: Thursday, June 14, at 6:30 p.m. Where: Yippie Museum Café, 9 Bleecker Street. Who: Gabriel Sayegh (Director, State Organizing and Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance); Wanda Best (wife of Rockefeller Drug Law prisoner Darryl Best, whose story is featured in Lockdown, USA); Ricky and Cheri O'Donoghue (parents of Rockefeller Drug Law prisoner Ashley O'Donoghue); Randy Credico (Director, William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice).
Location: 
New York, NY
United States

DPA Media Advisory: Surprise Birthday Party for Gov. Spitzer; Advocates Ask Spitzer to Keep His Campaign Promise to Reform Draconian Drug Laws

MEDIA ADVISORY: June 7, 2007 Contact: Gabriel Sayegh, 646-335-2264 or Tony Newman, 646-335-5384 Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Advocates to Throw a Surprise Birthday Party on Friday at Noon for Gov. Eliot Spitzer Real Reform New York Coalition and Others to Deliver Birthday Cake and Card to Spitzer Asking Him to Keep His Campaign Promise to Reform Draconian Drug Laws New York, NY—The Real Reform New York Coalition will join with many others on Friday, June 8 at noon to throw a surprise birthday party for Gov. Eliot Spitzer outside of his New York City office. Asking him to heed his campaign promise to reform the draconian Rockefeller drug laws, the coalition will celebrate Spitzer’s promise of justice. The Real Reform New York Coalition, made up of advocates, people formerly incarcerated under the Rockefeller drug laws, their family members and supporters, will share cake and party favors with the crowd, and deliver a large birthday card—signed by New York voters—demanding real reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. While campaigning, Spitzer promised to make Rockefeller Drug Law reform a priority during his term as governor. However, during the first six months in office, he has remained strangely silent about reforming Rockefeller Drug Laws. The Rockefeller drug laws underwent minor changes in 2004 and 2005. These changes proved to be ineffective in changing the racist and non-rehabilitative impact of these laws. The Rockefeller drug laws have filled New York’s state prisons with more than 14,000 people convicted of drug offenses, representing nearly 38 percent of the prison population and costing New Yorkers more than $550 million annually. New York’s Drug Law Reform Act of 2004 (DLRA) lowered some drug sentences but it fell far short of allowing most people serving under the more punitive sentences to apply for shorter terms. The reforms also did not increase the power of judges to place addicts into treatment programs. While advocates and family members are encouraged by the modest reforms, they maintain that the recent reforms have no impact on the majority of people behind bars. Most people behind bars on Rockefeller drug law violations are charged with nonviolent lower-level or class-B felonies. In April, the state Assembly passed A.6663, a bill that would significantly reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws by expanding treatment, reducing harsh sentences for low-level offenses, and increasing judicial discretion. Governor Spitzer has yet to comment on the bill, which is now sitting in the Senate. What: Surprise Birthday Party/Rally for Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Where: Outside Gov. Spitzer’s New York City Office, 633 3rd Ave. When: Friday, June 8, 2007, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: 
New York, NY
United States

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