Pubdate: Sat, 05 Jul 2003
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2003 Newsday Inc.
Author: Robert L. Boehm


Apparently, the state Legislature has seen fit not to take any action with 
respect to the harmful Rockefeller drug laws that have successfully 
resisted change for the past decade ["No Deals in Legislature as Session 
Nears End,", June 19].

In the usual last-minute rush concluding the legislative session in New 
York, the need for change in this situation is always overlooked. It is now 
time to recognize that something must be done about it, even if a special 
session of the Legislature must be called.

A situation where people are condemned to jail for 10, 15 and 20 years for 
nonviolent crimes involving transportation of drugs is unbearable and 
should be drastically modified. These laws removed the discretion of judges 
and instead require penalties to be imposed based upon prescribed rules. 
Punishments meted out often require long prison terms for offenses that 
would not even be considered if there were no drugs involved.

This is a situation society cannot ignore, but it has been ignored for too 
long. Judges are removed from the obligation to impose reasonable sentences 
because of codified "guidelines" that are immutable and were laid down many 
years ago. This is a situation that society must do something about.

Robert L. Boehm
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