Pubdate: Mon, 21 Jul 2008
Source: Post-Standard, The (Syracuse, NY)
Copyright: 2008 The Herald Company
Author: Michael Dunham


Fame Buys a Free Pass While Others Bear Brunt of Harsh Laws

To the Editor:

A celebrity is arrested and charged with fourth-degree criminal 
possession of a controlled substance, a Class C felony. If you pick 
up People magazine, watch "E.T." or have friends who follow celebrity 
gossip, you know how this story is going to end. Steven Page will, 
according to the band's Web site, be "heading into the studio later 
this year to record a new album."

Many people will remain oblivious to the fact that his money and fame 
helped him escape some of the harshest drug laws in the United 
States. New York still operates under the old Rockefeller rules, 
which ultimately take discretion out of judges' hands and mandate 
harsh penalties.

As someone who knows a person who was affected by these laws, I find 
it disconcerting when money and fame allow you to get a free pass. I 
find it even more distressing when I see someone who isn't a threat 
to society, has no prior felony drug offenses and no indication of 
being a significant player in the drug game, locked up and put on 
probation for two-plus years once released.

While I make no excuses for anyone, I don't see any justification for 
what has become of laws that were originally intended to lock up 
kingpins. As a criminal justice major, I am disappointed.

Money and fame shouldn't be the only way past a flawed process. 
Something needs to change.

Michael Dunham

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