Tuesday, June 27, 2006
From nytimes.com: A year and a half after the New York Legislature revised the drug laws in an effort to reduce harsh prison sentences for low-level offenders, a study by Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan, examined 84 drug offenders prosecuted by her office who have asked for resentencing since the laws were changed in 2004. The offenders had been convicted of possessing or selling enough hard drugs to make them eligible for sentences of at least 15 years to life.
The study found that judges granted lower sentences to 65 of those prisoners, and 22 of them, or about 34 percent, were either what she called "kingpins," leaders of international drug organizations, or "major traffickers," that is, leaders of local drug operations that moved large quantities of narcotics. Of the kingpins and major traffickers, 16 were granted relief from lifetime parole, and four of them have been released, she said.
The study looked only at those cases handled by her office, which accounted for about a quarter of the prisoners released statewide since the 2004 reforms. Advocates of the reforms said yesterday that because the special prosecutor was charged with handling the most serious cases, the study was somewhat skewed. Still, the study offers the first prosecutor's perspective of how the reforms have played out at a time when legislators are still debating whether they went too far or whether to relax the sentencing laws even further. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]