Pubdate: Fri, 15 Oct 2004
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2004, Syracuse Post-Standard
Author: G. Richard Kinsella
Bookmark: (Rockefeller Drug Laws)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


To the Editor:

For some time now, we have seen growing and widespread support for
reform of New York's laws mandating long incarceration for drug
possession and sales, known as the Rockefeller drug laws. Less often,
we have seen strategies articulated that include increased
availability of treatment as an alternative to incarceration that is
an essential element in revising these laws.

Editorial pages have noted with increasing frustration the failure of
our Legislature and governor to enact reform. Taxpayers continue to
shoulder the extraordinary expense, and to live with the tragic human
costs of lengthy prison sentences for these non-violent offenses.
However, voters are increasingly aware that treatment as an
alternative to incarceration produces better results, at a lower cost,
than lengthy prison sentences. Voters were sending a strong message in
the Albany County district attorney's primary, regardless of whether
or not the district attorney can make reform happen.

Those elected to the New York state Senate and Assembly in November
can make reform happen. Candidates should be asked if they will vote
for sentencing reform increased judicial discretion, and additional
funding for chemical dependency treatment and prevention services.

Although the governor is not up for re-election this year, he too
should be expected to support meaningful reform. We need intelligent
reform from our legislators and governor; reform that will keep our
streets safe, reduce crime and help addicts recover from their disease.

Sentencing reform is critical, but it is not enough without treatment
and additional funding to support access to effective care. Otherwise,
we may have shorter sentences but untreated addiction, a formula for
another round of cries to "lock "em up."

Let's get it right in November. Let's elect senators and Assembly
members committed to enacting effective drug-law reform and
establishing a solid funding base for effective chemical dependency
treatment and prevention.

G. Richard Kinsella, president

Syracuse Brick House
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake