Remember Kids, The Only Good Cop Is A Dead Cop

Drop The Rock
The Campaign to Repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws

What are the Rockefeller Drug Laws?

  • The Rockefeller Drug Laws were enacted in 1973 under then Governor Nelson Rockefeller.  They require long prison terms-up to 15 years to life-for the possession or sale of small amounts of drugs.

  • The penalties apply without regard to the circumstances of the offense or the individual's character or background.  Whether the person is a first-time or repeat offender, for instance, is irrelevant.

The drug laws drive prison expansion, fill prisons with non-violent, minor offenders, and drain resources from other services, such as drug treatment and education. 
There are currently over 21,000 drug offenders in NYS prisons.It cost the state about $2 billion to build new prisons to house drug offenders.  The annual operating expense for confining them comes to nearly $700 million per year.

  • From 1988 to 1998, the state increased annual prison spending by $761 million and decreased annual spending on the State and City Universities of NY by approximately $615 million
    The drug laws skew law enforcement efforts.
    • Guilt under the drug laws is determined by the amount of drugs in the offenders’ possession at the time of arrest, not by their role in the drug transaction.

    • This provision creates an incentive for law enforcement to concentrate on poor communities of color where most drug transactions take place on the street and minor dealers and users are more easily arrested.

    • Police generally ignore middle and upper-class areas where the majority of people buy and use drugs behind closed doors.
    The drug laws are a form of institutionalized racism.
    • Studies show that the majority of people who use and sell drugs are white, yet African-Americans and Latinos make up about 94% of the drug offenders in NYS prisons

    • Since 1982, NY has opened 38 prisons, all in upstate areasrepresented by Republican State Senators

    • Prisons in Republican senate districts receive more than $1.1 billion annually to cover their operating expenses and employ almost 30,000 people.

    • 93% of NYS inmates are housed in prisons located in Republican senate districts.

    • Nearly 65% of NY State prisoners are from NY City, almost all from a handful of poor communities of color.  2/3 of NY’s prisons are located more than 3 hours by car from NYC, cutting many inmates off from family and community ties.
    Drop the Rock
    c/o The Criminal Justice Alliance135
    E. 15th St, New York, NY 10003
    Tel. (212) 254-5700 Fax (212) 473-2807
    • The US Census Bureau records inmates as residents of the area where the prison that confines them is located, not as residents of the community they come from, where their families still reside.

    • NY has transferred thousands of people from its inner cities to upstate areas and, along with them, the government funding and electoral influence that are based on district population.  Moreover, inmates and parolees cannot voteIn conjunction with NYS laws that deny felony offenders the right to vote felon disenfranchisement laws), the drug laws drain political power and resources from poor communities of color.

       Because poor NYC communities of color have disproportionately high rates of drug  arrests and convictions largely due to the drug laws they are is proportionately stripped of voting power.    

    • Felon disenfranchisement laws were part of a series of Jim Crow policies that were first adopted in the South during the late 19th Century.  Others included literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses, all designed to keep African-Americans from voting.
    • Criminal disenfranchisement was the most indirect way to deny the vote to African Americans, and is the only Jim Crow practice that survives today.
    Alternatives to incarceration are available that would help cut crime, save money and
    rebuild lives, families, and communities.
    • Studies show that treatment is more successful than prison in fighting drug abuse, reducing recidivism rates, and preparing participants for stable and productive lives in the community. 

    • The cost of keeping an inmate in NYS prison for a year is about $32,000.  In comparison, the cost of most outpatient drug treatment care runs between $2,700-4,500 per person per year and the cost of residential treatment is $17,000-$21,000 per person per year.
    The Drop the Rock campaign promotes drug law REPEAL.  Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry, Chair of the Committee on Corrections, has introduced a Repeal Bill (A-2823) that, if passed, would accomplish 4 essential objectives:

    1. Restore sentencing discretion to trial judges in all drug cases.

    2. Make reform retroactive so that current inmates incarcerated under the drug laws can petition the courts for review of their sentences.

    3. Expand the funding for alternatives to incarceration, including drug treatment, job training and education so that judges have an appropriate place to send the offenders  they decide should not be imprisoned.

    4. Significantly reduce sentence lengths for drug offenses. Drop the Rockalso promotes a fundamental shift in government priorities. Prisons have proven to be an ineffective intervention into the cycle of drug abuse and crime associated with the drug trade.  Conversely, drug treatment, livable-wage employment, good education, and adequate, affordable housing and healthcare are successful ways to rebuild families, reconstruct communities and address the problems caused by drug abuse and drug-related crime and violence.  How can you help repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws?
    Join the Drop the Rock Campaign and become a Drop the Rock Voter: 

    • Register to vote.
    • Fill out a Drop the Rock Voter Pledge Form.
    • To find out other ways to get involved, call (212) 254-5700 x306 or visit