Pubdate: Wed, 09 Jun 2004
Source: Ogdensburg Journal/Advance News (NY)
Copyright: 2004 Johnson Newspaper Corp.
Address: P.O. box 409 Ogdensburg NY 13669
Author: Joel Stashenko, Associated Press
Note: Best option for printed LTEs, postal mail, signed w/phone#
Bookmark: (Rockefeller Drug Laws)


ALBANY, N.Y. - The state Senate's Republican majority said Tuesday it
sees no purpose in continuing a conference committee that has been
trying for more than a month to reach a deal with the state Assembly
to revamp the sentencing structure for drug offences.

The Senate's chief representative on the committee, Sen. Dale Volker,
accused Assembly Democrats of wanting to engineer a "jail break" by
easing punishments too much for some offenders. By failing to
compromise more on sentences for those convicted of class B drug
felonies, Volker said the assembly was preventing sentencing reforms
for thousands of other drug offenders. They include the 481 inmates in
state prison on 15-year-to-life sentences under the notoriously harsh
drug laws enacted in 1973 at the behest of former Gov. Nelson

"It is distressing to me that this 'all or nothing' approach the state
Assembly has taken only keeps 75 percent of drug felons who are
incarcerated from having their sentences reduced or eliminated," said
Volker, an Erie County Republican.

Assembly Democrats fired back that while they offered "creative
proposals and compromise after compromise," Senate Republicans were
unwilling to yield more on "core" points to the Democrats. They
included giving judges discretion to say which offenders should be
sent to treatment instead of prison.
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