ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON CODES
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON CORRECTION
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON ALCOHOLISM AND DRUG ABUSE
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
|Tuesday, December 8th, 2009||
Assembly Hearing Room
250 Broadway, Room 1923, 19th Floor
New York, New York
As part of the SFY 2009-10 New York State budget, the legislature enacted significant reforms of the "Rockefeller Drug Laws." When enacted in 1973, the purpose of the "Rockefeller Drug Laws" was to deter the use and sale of drugs by imposing long mandatory prison sentences on drug offenders. After 35 years of a drug policy focused on punishment with concomitant spending of billions of dollars to put people in prison, the time had finally come to broaden New York's approach to addressing drug addiction. Although modest reforms to the drug laws were enacted in 2004 and 2005, mandatory incarceration remained the focus of New York's drug laws until the historic reform enacted this year.
The reforms enacted in the budget significantly increase judicial discretion - authorizing judges to sentence many non-violent drug offenders to probation as a possible alternative to state prison. The legislation also creates a statutorily defined, uniform drug diversion program, expands the availability of drug treatment courts, and allows certain non-violent drug offenders serving long terms of incarceration under the old drug laws to apply to the courts for resentencing.
Returning discretion to judges to sentence drug offenders to treatment as a potential alternative to prison will undoubtedly increase the need for community-based substance abuse treatment programs and alternative to incarceration services. Additionally, the demand for drug treatment courts will rise. In order to meet this increased need, the SFY 2009-10 state budget included additional funding for outpatient and residential substance treatment services, expansion of drug treatment courts, and alternative to incarceration and reentry programs.
This hearing will provide an opportunity for the committees to hear from the courts as well as from community-based programs about the implementation of the Rockefeller Drug Law reform legislation, how the additional resources provided in the SFY 2009-10 budget are being utilized and what, if any, additional resources are needed.
Persons invited to present pertinent testimony to the Committees should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation. Oral testimony will be accepted by invitation only and limited to ten (10) minutes duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to the Committees' staff as early as possible.
Twenty (20) copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements. In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committees' hearing. In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.
JOSEPH R. LENTOL
Member of Assembly
Chair, Committee on Codes
HELENE E. WEINSTEIN
Member of Assembly
Chair, Committee on Judiciary
JEFFRION L. AUBRY
Member of Assembly
Chair, Committee on Correction
FELIX W. ORTIZ
Member of Assembly
Chair, Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
The Rockefeller Drug Law reform legislation established a statutorily defined judicial diversion program under Article 216 of the Criminal Procedure Law which returns discretion to judges to sentence certain non-violent drug offenders, and other non-violent offenders with substance abuse issues, to treatment as a potential alternative to incarceration. The judicial division program recently became effective on October 7, 2009. What steps has the court system taken to prepare for and implement the new judicial diversion program? Has Office of Court Administration (OCA) provided specialized training to judges? Has OCA coordinated with other state agencies, such as the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), to help ensure the success of the judicial diversion program? How are cases eligible for judicial diversion assigned? What additional resources, if any, are necessary for the successful implementation of the judicial diversion program?
Are there sufficient community-based treatment programs available to serve individuals participating in the judicial diversion program as well as offenders in need of substance abuse services placed on probation? How are the community-based programs that are utilized by the courts funded and what additional resources, if any, are necessary?
The reform legislation includes a provision, which became effective on October 7, 2009, to allow certain persons serving an indeterminate sentence for a class B drug offense pursuant to the old drug laws to apply for resentencing. What has been the impact on the courts to date of the resentencing provisions? What steps has the court system taken to help ensure that persons who are resentenced have access to community-based reentry programs to help ensure a successful transition back to the community?
What substance abuse treatment programs and resources are currently available in the community for persons released from jail and prison? Do they adequately meet the needs of the tens of thousands of persons released from jail and prison in New York each year?
Are the substance abuse treatment services that currently exist within New York State's prisons sufficient to meet the needs of inmates with a history of drug and alcohol abuse? Are there adequate employment, vocational, and educational programs in the prisons to prepare incarcerated individuals with a history of substance abuse for a successful reentry upon release? What steps are taken to ensure that there is a continuity of treatment and reentry services between prison and release to community?
What are the barriers faced by formerly incarcerated individuals with a history of substance abuse in obtaining public benefits, medical assistance, employment and affordable and stable housing? Are there sufficient community-based programs to offer employment, housing, and educational programs and assistance to formerly incarcerated individuals with a history of substance abuse? What can be done to improve housing, employment and educational opportunities for these persons?
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