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The Rockefeller Drug Reform Sham

Rosa Clemente | "We should be ashamed of ourselves," he said. "Rockefeller drug reform - ha! - I don't think so." State Sen. Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan), While many are praising the recent reform of the Rockefeller drug laws, many more are not. Although the reform bill will reduce the most severe mandatory sentences for drug offenses, according to data from the New York State Department of Correctional Services, the reform change will affect only 446 prisoners, 15,600 felons imprisoned under the drug law will remain imprisoned. Even with the proposed revisions, New York still has the harshest drug-sentencing laws in the country. According to Donna Lieberman executive director of the New York Civil Liberties, "Absent structural changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws - which requires restoring to judges the authority to order treatment as an alternative to sentencing - we will not have meaningful reform.†According to the NYCLU the new law will leave in place sentencing procedures that give prosecutors authority to charge and sentence. Judges have no discretion over sentencing. Prosecutors can demand a sentence of ten years for an addict with no criminal record who is induced by a dealer to deliver four ounces of a drug to a buyer. A judge who believes justice -- and the public interest -- would be best served by ordering the defendant to treatment rather than prison is prevented from doing so and if the judge did have discretion to send the person to drug treatment and nowhere in the reform bill is there funding for drug treatment programs. The new law will also do little or nothing to reform the harsh sentences imposed on "B" felons, those charged with lesser drug offenses, the NYCLU said. For example, an individual who is caught with a gram of a controlled substance, but has a prior offense still faces 3 _ to 12 years in prison. The majority of drug offenders serving time in New York prisons are non-violent B felons. So once again the Hip Hop community, who are the overwhelming victims of these drug laws, have been hoodwinked. "It's because of the artists. There's no way that it would have happened without the help of Jay-Z and Puffy and all the people who contributed," Simmons told "All those people really worked hard, they pushed, and it's really the power of hip-hop that made that happen. People came out, it was a big deal." Bull****! Once again Russell Simmons is wrong, misinformed and his praise of this reform bill has me questioning the relevance of him and his organization. I know that by even critiquing the so called “Hip Hop leader†that I open myself to attacks, some folks will say I am player hating, but what can I do, I am a true Hip Hopper, I try to be a voice for the voiceless and ultimately I am more concerned about the impact of this sham and the 18,000 majority Black and Brown folks that will continue to sit in upstate prisons. As someone who has been part of the campaign to repeal these laws, repeal not reform, I along with many activists are not at all happy with this compromise reform bill. Once again, our elected officials, those that are supposed to serve the interest of the people, have pulled the wool over our eyes, and just at the right time. November 2005 is a huge election year in New York, what a perfect way to appease the electorate. Governor Pataki and other elected officials are up for reelection in 2005, we should remember this betrayal when we go to the election booths. The Governor and his Republican and Democratic cohorts knew they had to do something, and so they did nothing. For over twenty years, activists like Randy Credico, Anthony Pappa, and Elaine Bartlett have fought tirelessly to repeal these laws. Randy director of the Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice and an organizer of the group Mothers of the New York Disappeared said in The New York Times that he is faced with calling many of the group's members, he said, and tell them their children "are not coming home.†In the last five years the Drop the Rock, a coalition spearheaded by Robert Ganagi and the Correctional Association of New York and composed of young community activists, veteran criminal justice reformers, artists, students, former inmates, politicians, and religious, civic, and labor leaders have also worked hard to repeal these draconian laws. What happened in Albany 48 hours ago was a de-service to all the people who dedicated themselves to this movement. So it’s now time to dust us up, and dig into the trenches. We should no longer as a community be satisfied, with answers that leave more questions. Amilcar Cabral, leader of the Guinea-Bissau liberation struggle once stated, “Tell no lies, expose lies wherever they are told, mask no difficulties, mistakes nor failures, claim no easy victories.†We cannot claim victories that are not real, when Russell stated in the New York times “ I am very, very happy†we must ask the question what is he happy about. It is time Hip Hop start speaking truth to power, loudly and clearly, whether we speak loudly to a Governor or a “Hip Hop mogul†the point is that we speak truth, anything less would be a disservice to Hip Hop culture and to the 15,600 brothers and sisters that will stay behind the walls. ROSA CLEMENTE, IS A HIP HOP ACTIVIST, A JOURNALIST WITH WBAI RADIO IN NEW YORK CITY AND MEMBER OF THE MALCOLM X GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT. SHE CAN BE REACHED AT KNOWTHYSELF@MAC.COM THE ROCKEFELLER DRUG REFORM SHAM "We should be ashamed of ourselves," he said. "Rockefeller drug reform - ha! - I don't think so." State Sen. Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan), While many are praising the recent reform of the Rockefeller drug laws, many more are not. more...  2 Comments

Rally for Casa Del Sol in the South Bronx , Sunday

Casa Del Sol | Garden Party, Rally and Procession to support and commemorate Casa del Sol community center! more...  3 Comments

stats on RNC arrests vs. convictions

ang copp | Stats on the number of convictions coming out of RNC more...  9 Comments

Jazz Benefit: Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners. Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!

Partisan Defense Committee | HOLIDAY APPEAL FOR CLASS-WAR PRISONERS FEATURING THE BERN NIX TRIO WITH SPECIAL GUESTS. The Partisan Defense Committee invites you to its 19th Annual Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners on Friday, December 10th. The jazz benefit highlights the fight to free death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. It will feature live jazz with the Bern Nix Trio, with special guests: Oliver Lake, Roy Campbell and Anthony Coleman. Speakers will include Monique Code, representative for Mumia's son, Jamal Hart; and Lynne Stewart, leftist attorney. Admission is $10.00 in advance, $15.00 at the door. All proceeds collected for the Holiday Appeal will go to the Class-War Prisoners Stipend Fund. For more information, call: 212-406-4252. more...  0 Comments

Faith-based 'security' and the RNC

hellspantry | Homeland 'Security' and the 'Disaster Plan' for the UFPJ march at the RNC. more...  2 Comments

Protest the removal of the hawks' nest this Sunday.

Pale Male | Protest the removal of the red-tailed hawks' nest on the Upper East Side. more...  10 Comments

"Oil Factor" - Eco-Screening Sun 12/12 @ Cocktail lounge

Doc.Tails | Weekly Sunday Evening film screening series featuring compelling documentaries & prominent guest speakers in a relaxed cocktail lounge. (DJ afterparty & drink specials) more...  1 Comments

Mickey Z. on WBAI tomorrow morning

anon. | more...  4 Comments

Why I do not demonize Smolka. Blame it on the weather.

Camarada | C.M. Why I do not demonize Smolka. Blame it on the weather. more...  5 Comments

U.S. vets from Iraq war emerge at homeless shelters

Jeez | By Mark Benjamin Wednesday 8th December, 2004 U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era. more...  2 Comments

J20 Strike!

MountainScavenger | Could there be a more appropriate time? more...  10 Comments

Critical Mass Hearing Continues

go | more...  5 Comments

What Kind Of Hospitals Do We Have In New York???

Whistleblower | more...  1 Comments

Boycotting U.S. Warfare State-Funded Media

alternativemediawatch | Boycotting CPB-sponsored radio and tv stations in NYC as an anti-war protest against CPB media complicity with the U.S. Warfare State's policy of permanent war. more...  3 Comments

New Crosstown Bike Lane

madhatter | New Crosstown Bike Lane more...  3 Comments

Hawks Evicted on Upper East Side!

atomicBirdsong | So it looks like a co-op got tired of a pair of endangered Hawks nesting on the building. more...  14 Comments


Iraq Peace Forum | TONIGHT AT 7:30 - OPEN FORUM ON ANTIWAR MOVEMENT STRATEGY WITH FRANCES FOX PIVEN AND RAHUL MAHAJAN St. Mark's in the Bowery Church - 10 St. and 2nd Ave. more...  2 Comments

12/18 Take action against war-profiting Toys R Us!

Youth for Justice | more...  4 Comments

SATURDAY-BLACK BOX TEA PARTY | Protest a travesty of democracy Saturday more...  1 Comments

UN Event for Survivors of Murder Victims Opposed to the Death Penalty to Launch New Group on International Human Rights Day | SURVIVORS OF MURDER VICTIMS OPPOSED TO THE DEATH PENALTY TO LAUNCH NEW GROUP ON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY more...  2 Comments

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