In a letter to Governor Pataki with an accompanying critique of the governor's bill, the New York-based human rights organization said the Pataki proposal introduced in the Senate kept the worst features of the Rockefeller drug laws.
"Pataki's bill is a 'bait-and switch'." said Jamie Fellner, associate counsel at Human Rights Watch. "What was advertised as a major reform consists of little more than minor tinkering. Pataki has left intact the punitive sentencing structure that has filled New York prisons with low-level drug offenders."
Human Rights Watch also released today a letter to Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver with an accompanying critique of the Assembly's drug law reform proposal. While faulting the Assembly bill for retaining mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug offenders, Human Rights Watch said the Assembly bill contained many needed reforms. In particular, the Assembly bill would reduce minimum sentence lengths and increase trial court judges' authority to divert offenders into substance abuse treatment programs.
"The Assembly bill reflects a genuine effort to create a fairer and more sensible sentencing structure for drug offenders," said Fellner. "It offers a viable starting point for the profound reform that the state needs."