New York is one vote away from sweeping reforms to its three-decade-old Rockefeller drug laws, which require mandatory minimums for people convicted of drug crimes in the state. The Draconian laws led the way for a national trend toward harsh drug laws in the 1970s and 1980s. The time has come to admit failure and change direction.
Earlier this month, the State Assembly passed a bill essentially repealing the Rockefeller laws, and Gov. David Patterson (above left), who was once arrested for protests the laws, has proposed a compromise bill to bring Senate Republicans into the fold. His deal, however, may not go far enough.
It's worth clicking through to see what Gov. Patterson's proposal does not include: no retroactive application; no mandatory treatment; and offenders must plead guilty to enter rehab rather than prison.
Still, what he's offering is much-needed progress. Not enough, but progress nonetheless.