Rockefeller Drug Reform Case Study

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The reformed Rockefeller Drug Laws worked to eliminate mandatory prison sentencing for first and second drug felony offenders as well as establishing statewide judicial diversion programs for certain felony offenders (Kluger & Rempel, 2013). This reform also gave previously convicted offenders the opportunity to apply for resentencing. This allowed people like Cheri O’Donoghue’s son to question their previous sentences to get a more just retrial and a sentence that was more fitting to his low-level offence. This does not include individuals with Class A felonies, limiting them to alternative sentences and increases prison time (Parsons, Wei, Henrichson, Drucker, & Trone, 2015). The 2009 reform requires the impact of the changes to be studied …show more content…

Communities of color were targeted for crimes and given larger prison sentences than their white counterparts. In the Rockefeller Drug Reform of 2009, the racial disparities significantly decreased in the early periods following the reform (Parsons, Wei, Henrichson, Drucker, & Trone, 2015). Black and Hispanic individuals, in 2008 were three-times more likely than whites to receive a prison sentence; by 2010, black and Hispanic individuals were only twice as likely to be charged than whites. Although this is still an issue that needs to be addressed, it is a significant accomplishment compared to previous years. There is still said to be harmful biases in the criminal justice system (Parsons, Wei, Henrichson, Drucker, & Trone, …show more content…

It is believed that letting a criminal free from incarceration puts society at risk. Before the reform recidivism rates were high, scaring the public with the idea that criminals can reenter society. When comparing individuals who were sentenced to prison to those in diversion programs, those in diversion programs were more likely to stay out of jail while those who went to jail were more likely to have re-arrests. It was reported that 64% of the treatment sample were arrest-free over a two-year follow up period. Those in the diversion program had recidivism rates as low as 36%; this compares to the group who were given jail time with a recidivism rate of 54% (Parsons, Wei, Henrichson, Drucker, & Trone, 2015). In terms of public safety, only 3% of individuals who were involved in treatment programs committed violent crimes after treatment; this number doubles for those who were sentenced to jail and prisons. New York has made the necessary changes to start viewing The War on Drugs and its influence on Mass Incarceration as not only a criminal justice issue but also now a mental health and public health problem. From the beginning, stakeholders saw the flaws and have spent about 36 years working out the issues. The reform is a good stepping stone toward a more just system, but just as the original Rockefeller drug Laws had their issues, the new reforms will have issues that will be worked out through the years to

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