By Roger Stone With Republicans losing the New York State Senate for the first time in 40 years, the long-time obstacle to reform of New York's expensive, ineffective, harsh, and racist Rockefeller Drug Laws has theoretically been removed.

Rockefeller
The Rockefeller Drug Laws were enacted in 1970 when Governor Nelson Rockefeller needed to move his political imagery a few notches to the right to win votes from the "the silent majority" that became a crucial element of the Governor's come from behind reelection. The Rockefeller Drug Laws were a political cynical political calculation and they have destroyed thousands of lives and families. Governor David Paterson is a life-long proponent of reform even sponsoring the broadest, most comprehensive reform initiatives blocked from the floor by Senate Republicans. Paterson said, "I am for judicial discretion and the elimination of high mandatory minimums. I believe such goals are attainable within a determined sentencing system." Paterson also said, "Justice can be done if the sentencing options within a grid permit it. The public safety would be protected."

Simmons: Sold Out
Three years ago rap impresario Russell Simmons decided to jump on the reform band-wagon and, ignoring lawyers and longtime drug law reform activists, he settled for minor reforms that the New York Times said were "partial - at best." Simmons got a photo op with George Pataki in return for his sell-out of the real reform advocates. While Simmons got good play in the tabloids, nothing really changed for thousands of men and women, overwhelmingly African American and Latino, as well as poor Whites who rot in Upstate prisons with no hope of returning to a productive life. Now the stars are in the right alignment to enact real reform that is efficient, effective, and racially just. Today, wealthy white people who can afford expensive lawyers, like former Lt. Governor and now Judge Mary Donahue's daughter, who was arrested with a significant amount of marijuana, can evade the law. If you are poor, or Black or Latino, you can get a longer sentence in New York State for drug offenses than you can for murder. Real reform would have to include a return to judicial discretion in sentencing and replacing the mandatory minimum sentences that now tie Judge's hands, even in cases where a miscarriage of justice is evident. Real reform will also have to provide the option of treatment rather than prison for addicted drug offenders. Speaking as a Conservative, the Rockefeller drug laws are the epitome of an expensive government program which does not work. Longtime incarceration costs the taxpayers a fortune and lack of treatment is rehabilitating no one and providing high rate recidivism. The cost of drug treatment is substantial less than the cost of housing and feeding thousands of first-time drug offenders - a net savings on taxpayers' money. Would-be Senate Leader Malcolm Smith needs to reaffirm his commitment to move real reform to the floor. It's time for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Shelly Silver to step-up. Paterson, Smith, and Silver. Was their support for reform of this racist body of law just political talk to rally their constituents? Will they pass real reform? The time is now.