The greedy, corrupt prison lobbyists and their bosses are back at it again using false and misleading statements and statistics to scare the public into pushing even more nonviolent, diseased drug addicts into long term sentences. It has been evident over the years that these lobbyists and their cronies will fill their expensive prison "hotels" at any cost. These institutions have become some of the best schools in America, teaching nonviolent drug offenders how to become hardened-criminals, ultimately becoming life-long card members of their finest "hotels." That is exactly why we worked for years on reforming the Rockefeller Drug Laws, so we would no longer treat our most vulnerable the same way we treat those who are real threats to our public safety. Through drug courts, rehabilitation and the end of mandatory minimum sentences we have made much progress since 2009, however, the full implementation of the reforms is still a ways away.
The statistics stated in today's New York Post op-ed "Why Crime's Rising: Drug Law 'Reform' Plaguing NY" by former Rockland County District Attorney Michael E. Bongiorno are grossly misrepresented. Mr. Bongiorno's position that crime is rising in certain parts of our state because of drug law reform is unfounded and based on assumptions, rather than facts. His entire argument is based on the increase of violent crimes, however, the vast majority (close to 75 percent) of those incarcerated for drug offenses have never been convicted of a violent felony.
Fewer than 600 people have been released under the Rockefeller Drug Law Reforms, and those re-sentenced under the reforms have remarkably low rates of return to prison -- less than 9 percent, compared to an overall recidivism rate of nearly 40 percent -- and generally for parole violations, not the commission of new crimes. These ugly stereotypes about drug offenders, that most are violent criminals, is one for the Reagan/Bush years... we no longer believe the hype.
The "War on Drugs" and the "Rockefeller Drug Laws" were major failures of our society. In New York, both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have recognized these failures and have been strong supporters of the present reformation of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. We waged WAR against our own people and that war has destroyed our communities. 94 percent of those statewide and 97 percent of those in New York City convicted of drug offenses are black and Latino, even though blacks and whites sell and use drugs at the same rate. We now understand how the war was fought, with phase one being the misleading and manipulating of the public. Phase two is to legally bribe, through lobbying and "fundraising," for our elected officials who ultimately put terrible, destructive, racist laws on the books so they can continue to fill their "hotels."
This is a new America. An America that believes that drug addiction is a disease and not a crime. We will no longer subject ourselves to the old ways of destruction. We will fight for a fair justice system that uplifts our people from the drug war devastation of the past 39 years.