Pubdate: Tue, 13 Feb 2001
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2001 The Gazette Newspapers
Contact:  P.O. Box 1090, Schenectady, NY 12301-1090
Fax: (518) 395-3072
Author: Mike Smithson
Note: The writer is director of the speakers bureau of ReconsiDer, a 
statewide group that calls for repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.


It's amazing what someone with the power of the district attorney's 
office can get away with, like the recent remarks from Schenectady 
County District Attorney Robert Carney about the drug laws of New 
York. "Changes of this kind would devastate efforts to curb drug 

Drug distribution, eh? So, I guess he would say that the efforts to 
date have been fruitful. Heroin and cocaine cost less than they did 
25 years ago, when the Rocky drug laws went into effect. We had 
13,000 in the prison system then, and now we have 70,000. Our cities 
have been gutted by drug arrests, many of them for true possession. 
How are Carney and the District Attorneys' Association curbing drug 

Since most drug felons are people of color, I would call it minority 
warehousing. C'mon, Carney, call it what it is; in a recent 
Poughkeepsie Journal article, you said (falsely) most drug dealing 
goes on in the minority communities.

There are those, like Carney, who would say most drug users are young 
minority males, which is the face of our prison population (92 
percent of drug felons in New York state are people of color). 
Unfortunately, every single government and independent survey shows 
that the typical drug user is a middle-aged white guy. But where does 
the drug task force do all of its work? In the minority communities, 
not in the bedroom suburbs around the Capital Region.

Carney says that most of those folks busted are dealers, not 
first-time users, but he won't tell you the whole truth. The truth is 
that if you have a certain quantity in your possession, that makes 
you, in the eyes of the New York State Legislature and the District 
Attorneys' Association, a dealer. And to bring more of these folks 
under their thumb, they, whenever they want to, pass a new law 
lowering the amount of drugs a person must have in order to qualify 
as a dealer. Think about this: Instead of buying a six-pack of beer, 
I buy a case or two. In Carney's eyes, I've switched from user to 

Finally, Carney wants you to believe that the Rocky drug laws are of 
little significance, since so few people are convicted of them. Don't 
be fooled here, either, because in every single case the Rocky drug 
laws come into play. Those laws are a hammer they use to hold over 
the heads of anyone they catch with drugs, offering them a choice: 
Take a plea for X number of years, or go to trial using the Rocky 
drug laws and expect 15-to-life. The defendants have little choice.

What needs to happen is for New Yorkers to wake up to this improper 
control by the district attorneys and put the power back into the 
hands of the judges, where it belongs, and resided for so many years 
before 1973.

Don't believe the lies the district attorneys spout. Stand up for 
America and call for the repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The 
district attorneys like Carney need to be shown the truth: They work 
for us, and they aren't supported by the majority of New Yorkers. 
Take the power back from the district attorneys.

MIKE SMITHSON Syracuse The writer is director of the speakers bureau 
of ReconsiDer, a statewide group that calls for repeal of the 
Rockefeller Drug Laws.
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