A Victory is Won

Thank you NAACP members!  After decades of protest, the Rockefeller Drug Law era has ended with its repeal by New York State officials.  Our voice was heard, the letters, emails, and phone calls to legislators in New York were overwhelming.  

The NAACP applauds New York Governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith along with the many civil rights, civil liberties and grassroots organizations that joined NAACP in calling for an end to the cruel and irrational laws. 

The repeal will remove the mandatory minimum prison sentences, expand drug treatment programs and allow first time non-violent offenders to be diverted to treatment instead of prison. 

For over 35 years, families in New York have been plagued by these measures.  Mothers, who needed drug treatment, were thrown in jail for sentences as long as 20 years, torn from their families and leaving children to fend for themselves in the foster care system. The rule was particularly harsh for African Americans and women.  In New York by 1990, 61.2 percent of all female prisoners were committed for a drug offense.  African Americans and Latinos constituted 94.2 percent of the total population of drug felons in New York, whites were 5.3 percent.

The struggle to end the lock 'em up and throw away the key policies that resulted in the U.S. jailing more of its citizens than any other industrialized country has just won a significant victory.  Like all struggles before it, we have to keep moving forward until we achieve the comprehensive change our country needs.

“This moment reflects an important window in our history.  It is the time to dream big.  The economic and political shifts in our country open the door to advance policies that we thought would take decades to win.  Now is the time for action,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, CEO of the NAACP.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP--the nation's oldest, largest and most widely-recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization—is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

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