Monday, February 25, 2013

Looking Back at the Rock Laws

New York's so-called Rockefeller drug laws were some of the toughest mandatory minimum drug sentences ever created -- and they were recently reformed and mostly repealed.  But what is their legacy?

In case you missed it, this NPR radio duo of shows describes the Rockefeller drug laws' impact, both human and fiscal.

This segment describes how the draconian Rockefeller drug laws shaped a whole era of sentencing policy, and how we are still living with the results:  long, mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug crimes; too many people in prisons; budgets crunched and crumbling trying to maintain an unsustainable system.  It all sounded good at the time, to the public and to lawmakers, but decades later, state after state is realizing the folly of mandatory minimum sentences.

Congress should take note and reform federal mandatory sentences.

Lest we forget the human impact, this segment tells the story of George Prendes, who served 15 years without parole for a New York state drug offense:
There are roughly half a million people behind bars for nonviolent drug crimes in America. But no one really knows how many people have been sentenced to long prison bids since the laws known as Rockefeller drug laws first passed 40 years ago.
What's clear is that tough sentencing laws, even for low-level drug dealers and addicts, shaped a generation of young men, especially black and Hispanic men.
Men like George Prendes, now 59. Born in Cuba, he now works long hours as a telemarketer, barely making rent on his tiny, cluttered apartment in the Bronx.
"It's just the drudgery," Prendes says of his life today. "I mean at my age, I shouldn't be struggling like this."
His wife, Yvonne, says prison carved a hole in the middle of Prendes' life.
"His experience damaged a part of him, you know? Wanting to recuperate the time lost," she says. "And you just can't do that. You can't get those 15 years back."

1 Comment:

Ashtabulas Finest said...

I agree My daughters father was sentenced to 7 mandatory +2 years extra for a probation violation. I was also sentenced to 1 year but ws released on a judicial for good behavior. My daughters father made methamphetamines we were both addicts. I purchased the Sudafed. I know it would have been a lot more effective to do possibly long term probation with drug testing. Even an ankle bracelet would have worked for him its not like he was gonna try and well actually hes just been in there to long its wore me and my daughter down becuase I guess I was given the sentence of taking care of my daughter on my own. I just recently withdrew or well quit my classes for medical secretary I was halfway done. I couldnt afford the gas to get back and forth an hour away from home. I guess the mandatory minimum sentencing has left me with no hope. I believe he will definetly go back to manufacturing because hes good at it and there is no programs or anything in the city to keep him from going back to it. Hes just not going to be as care free as he was befor. Iv seen so many of people our age get out and do the same thing and get caught and go right back in. people that served 5 years in prison they get out try and stay right but the only people they can relate to or fit in with is there old friends and they start right back up. and then after maybe 6 months a year if there lucky and there on there way back with another sentence. I dont understand why the solution is jail. it will keep costing the tax payers forever. until someone sees it for what it is. and the single moms can all be on assistance and live in crappy places work for people who use them . They never get by so in turn god knows what they have to do just to get some $ to pay a speeding ticket off so they dont go to jail and have no one to watch there kids. And the kids have no clue what its like to have a dad in the family. I guess thats a reason not to start. But look how many people smoke ciggeretts. its no different All it is is curiousity. Boredom and actually a bunch of adhd and add even undiagnosed austism people self medicading there self to feel normal. and look what it turns into. i mean people pay attention when it affects there family if not then well they think we should be shot.Locked up and the key thrown away. There are bad people I see them all the time But my daughter is a very positive she thinks its normal to see dad at JAIl School. The CO's smile and greet her when she walks in. Like there family. Thats normal for her. So I guess we'll just have to see how this unfolds when he is released. My friend says the cops told him " You can taker the boy out of the meth but you cant take the meth out of the boy.So if my kids dad doesnt have all kinds of prison diseases when he comes home that will surprise me considering all of the tattoos made out of shavers and radios that where probably shared with who knows how many people but I dont know I just figured id vent for a min. There is no hope.