For 35 years judges in New York State have had to follow strict sentencing laws for drug offenders. Critics
say the Rockefeller Drug Laws, named for the former governor, mete out long prison sentences to small time offenders, and that drug treatment would often be more effective. Now, state lawmakers are poised to reform the laws
. Journalist Jennifer Gonnerman
wrote about the experience of one woman sentenced under the Rockefeller Drug Laws in her book Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett
. She joins Farai and John with a look at the laws and the proposed reforms.
"They essentially establish a blueprint for fighting the so-called war on drugs, that was copied by every corner of the country, and have essentially been the engine that have driven the prison expansion in this country over the last 30 years."
— Journalist Jennifer Gonnerman on the strict Rockefeller Drug Laws