“Rockefeller Drug Laws”
In May of 1973, New York’s Governor, Nelson Rockefeller, made a set of strict anti-drug laws for the state legislature. The purpose of these laws was to stop the drug abuse epidemic that was occurring in New York during the early 1970’s. It was the most severe law in the nation; the drug laws were to punish those who possessed and sold heavy amounts of narcotics like cocaine and heroine and to hold them in custody for the amount they possessed or sold. For example, if the person was caught with the possession of two or four ounces of drugs on them the minimum time in a federal prison would be 15 years to life, no matter what age (if the offender was of 15 years of age or older).
The Uniform State Narcotic Act, final-drafted in 1932, was a result of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. It was argued that the traffic in narcotic drugs should have the same regulations in all of the states. The committee at the convention took into consideration the fact that the federal government had already passed laws regarding this issue. Many people assume that these laws were necessary, however, they were revenue producing and did not give the states the authority to exercise police power in regard to seizure of drugs. As a result of this act, the FBN was able to encourage state governments to have some regulation of
With the large amount of inmates, the laws that were approved by Congress in 1986 and 1988 were seen as too harsh. For example, Dorothy Gaines, who was a nurse and PTA mom, had her home in Alabama raided by the police looking for drugs in 1993. She was charged by federal prosecutors with drug conspiracy since her boyfriend was a courier in a drug deal. Gaines had to serve a 19-year sentence and leave behind three children even though she claims that she didn’t even know that her boyfriend was involved in any drug deals (Ungrady, 2011, p. 152). This is an example of how the drug laws were sometimes cruel and unfair. In other cases, a prisoner went on to describe his 20-year sentence for selling crack as “over-kill” and claims that it didn’t take him all those years to learn from what he did (Ungrady, 2011, p. 155). With such strict laws, it led to sentences and punishment that were not necessary.
Drug Sentencing Reform
The Judiciary Branch of the United States government is responsible for interpreting the law. Those involved with this branch determine the meaning of the laws and decide what to do with those who break them. Because of a drug movement that took place through the 1980s, the courts have severely punished those who break laws associated to drugs; Congress is now trying to step in to change the way the Judiciary Branch is forced to punish such criminals. Congress has been busy the past couple of years evaluating the proper sentencing of those convicted of drug crimes.
The United States enacted mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions beginning in 1951 with the Boggs Act. The Boggs Act provided both mandatory minimum sentences for first-time drug convictions and it increased the length of sentences for subsequent convictions. In 1956, the Narcotics Control Act increased the minimum sentences spelled out in the Boggs Act. It also forbade judges from suspending sentences or imposing probation in cases where they felt a prison sentence was inappropriate. In 1970, the Nixon Administration and Congress negotiated a bill that sought to address drug addiction through rehabilitation; provide better tools for law enforcement in the fight against drug trafficking and manufacturing; and provide a more balanced scheme of penalties for drug crimes. The final product, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, repealed man...
There is no shortage of information chronicling the destruction that has been done in the lives of numerous of individuals and numerous loved one of those individuals by the severely harsh sentencing laws passed by our United States Congress and our state legislatures commencing in the late 1980s in what is called to be “War on Drugs.” Some of our past and present political influential leaders have chooses to minimize utilizing their Pardon Power.
Approaching the “Roaring Twenties” the Volstead Act, prohibiting alcohol consumption, was enacted. An effort to reduce crime and dictate morals, the controversial reach of government intervention into personal life took an intrusive new twist. Initially overcoming a presidential veto, Andrew Volstead’s new act was initially popular amongst the majority. And it was effective for quite some time. Eventually, escalating crime rates, as well as an ever changing society, helped bring about its demise. Similarly, the Controlled Substances Acts’ purpose lies in enforcing the use of drugs on the federal level (Teaching with Documents).
The so called “war on drugs” was declared in 1971 by President Richard Nixon. President Nixon significantly increased the manpower of several federal drug control agencies, as well as their presence on the front line. President Nixon used tactics such as mandatory sentencing for drug offenders, and no-knock w...
As a whole, the US had too many laws, and police agencies, along with courts were having a hard time keeping track of every law. The Controlled Substance Act tapered the list to a more precise and easy to read statute for drug offenses. You could essentially look at a chart, see what drug was obtained during the offenses, and pick a punishment. Another problem was the Vietnam war. It lasted a total of 20 years from November 1955, to April 1975. Soldiers were coming back from war with PTSD, and needed a route for help. Some took a legal route, while others resorted to drug use. Before soldiers came home, they began drug use while fighting in Vietnam. There was a growing amount of servicemen in Vietnam who decided to use narcotics and marijuana to pull the psychological pain of a brutal war. (Arria, Motherboard/Vice) It is believed that many soldiers carried marijuana and heroin with them while the fought throughout Vietnam. While the fighting was going on overseas, you could say a party was happening here stateside. There was an epidemic of marijuana smoking and use of LSD across the country. The National Institute for Drug Abuse released a study that observed marijuana smokers of the 1970’s, compared to now. This study conducted on 8th to 12th graders. In the 1970’s, 1 in every 11 high school seniors were daily marijuana smoker, compared to 1 in every 16 in 2010. (Dr. Johnston, Medscape) The government didn’t like the idea of the youth being so highly drawn to an illegal substance. They worked with law makers, and doctors to see if it had any medical benefits, and tested the likelihood for dependence, eventually classifying marijuana as a schedule
However, before the specific outcomes of Congressional influence and policy impact can be evaluated it becomes important to first review the general history and current situation of drugs today. Our present drug laws were first enacted at the beginning of the century. At the time, recreational use of narcotics was not a major social issue. The first regulatory legislation was for the purpose of standardizing the manufacturing and purity of pharmaceutical products. Shortly after, the first criminal laws were enacted which addressed opium products and cocaine. Although some states had prohibited the recreational use of marijuana, there was no federal criminal legislation until 1937. By contrast, the use of alcohol and its legality was a major social issue in United States in the early 20th century. This temperance movement culminated in the prohibition of alcohol from 1920 to 1933. Recreational drug use, particularly heroin, became more prevalent among the urban poor during the early ?60s. Because of the high cost of heroin and its uncertain purity, its use was associated with crime and frequent overdoses.