Drug Law Changes
New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, enacted in 1973, mandated long prison sentences for many drug offenders. The law was amended several times, most recently in April 2009. At that time, major changes included the elimination of mandatory prison sentences for some drug offenses, and the reduction of minimum sentence lengths for others. In October 2009, Article 216 of the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) became effective, expanding judicial discretion to offer drug court alternatives to certain addicted non-violent offenders.
The 2009 reform of New York’s drug laws includes a requirement to study the impact of these changes (Executive Law Section 837(4)(b-1))). The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is coordinating this effort and working with other state and local agencies.
Reports and updates on the drug law changes, including county-specific data, are posted below.
Presentations and Updates
DCJS provides periodic updates and webcasts on changes associated with the new laws.
- June 2013 Presentation – This presentation updates information on trends in arrests, indictments, and commitments to prison for felony drug and specified property offenses. In addition, we update trends in screenings and admissions to judicial diversion programs, and provide a description of drug court participants admitted in 2012. Finally, we present program outcomes for 2010 drug court participants – the first full-year cohort of participants admitted after the drug law reforms took effect. We present participant success rates and explore how rates vary by region and participant characteristics. (appendices)
- June 2012 Presentation – This presentation is an update on the impact of the 2009 drug law changes with information through 2011. Trends in felony drug arrests, indictments, prison commitments, diversions to treatment and treatment participation are presented, providing comparisons before and after the drug law changes were implemented. (pdf, 40 pages)
- June 2011 Presentation – Trends in felony drug arrests, indictments, prison commitments, diversions to treatment and treatment participation are updated through 2010, providing comparisons before and after the drug law changes were implemented. (pdf, 19 pages)
- First Year Update: Preliminary Impact of 2009 Drug Law Reform October 2009 – September 2010 (10/10) - After one year of full implementation, this update reviews the impact of the new drug laws on admissions to prison, drug court activity and admissions to treatment.
- June 2010 Presentation– An update on the trends associated with the new laws were presented to various stakeholders in June 2010. This update includes latest trends in felony drug arrests, indictments and commitments to prison, judicial diversion, treatment participation, and the latest data available on felony drug plea and sentencing trends. (pdf, 19 pages)
- February 2010 Presentation– Early changes associated with implementation of the new laws through December 2009 were presented to various stakeholders in February 2010. Regional impacts for New York City and the Rest of the State were included (pdf, 16 pages)
2009 Drug Law Changes, 2014 Update (5/14)
This is the latest in a series of reports on the impact of the 2009 drug law changes on arrests, indictments and commitments to prison for felony drug offenses. In addition, the report summarizes the impact of judicial diversion on admissions to felony drug court and associated recidivism rates.
2009 Drug Law Changes, June 2012 Update (07/12)
This report expands upon the June 2012 presentation, going into further detail regarding the impact of the 2009 drug law changes on felony drug arrests and indictments, as well as on initial case dispositions including diversion to treatment, commitments to prison and prison sentence lengths; offender treatment participation is also examined.
Felony Drug Court Activity Among Offenders Eligible Under 2009 Drug Law Changes, 2008-2010 (11/11)
A joint collaboration between DCJS and the Office of Court Administration, this report examines the impact of the 2009 drug law changes on felony drug court screenings and admissions throughout the state.
Felony Drug Arrest, Indictment and Commitment Trends 1973-2008 (2/10)
Information on the criminal justice processing of felony drug cases, beginning in 1973, when the Rockefeller Drug Laws took effect and ending in 2008, the year before the reforms were enacted.
Profile of Felony Drug Offenders Committed to New York State Prison 2008 (2/10)
Demographic and criminal histories of drug offenders admitted to prison in 2008, the year before the drug law reforms were enacted. This report establishes a baseline for future reports assessing the impact of the reforms to determine whether they are working as intended.
Effective October 2009, an eligible class B felony drug offender committed to prison with an indeterminate sentence greater than 1-3 years can apply to be resentenced to a determinate term in accordance with the new sentence ranges. The annual resentencing reports show the total number of offenders resentenced by county, the number released and, for those still in prison, the number of days until release.