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2003-05-09

Protests Mark 30th Anniversary of New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws

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Hip hop legend Russell Simons & the Rev. Al Sharpton call for repeal of the laws outside Gov. Pataki’s office.

The Bush daughters have once again found themselves in the press this week for their alleged drug use.

Actor Ashton Kutcher told Rolling Stone magazine how a year and a half ago he saw Jenna and Barbara smoking marijuana. He said one night "I go upstairs to see another friend and I can smell the green wafting out under his door. I open the door and there he is, smoking out the Bush twins on his hookah."

If the Bush daughters were caught doing this in New York, they could land serious jail time.

This week is the 30th anniversary of the Rockefeller drug laws. In 1973, New York governor Nelson Rockefeller pushed through State legislature the first laws in the nation that require minimum sentences for first-time drug users.

The Rockefeller drug laws mandate a minimum of 15 years for first-time, nonviolent drug users who are caught with small amounts of drugs.

Dozens of other states and the federal government rushed to adopt their own versions of the Rockefeller drug laws when New York State set the precedent.

But people like Barbara and Jenna Bush don’t need to be too afraid. Most the people imprisoned by these laws are poor, and most of them are people of color.

Yesterday in New York, a coalition of politicians, celebrities, and mothers of prisoners rallied outside Governor George Pataki’s office to demand the repeal of the drug laws. Hip-hop promoter and producer Russell Simmons, former New York Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, and New York Reverend Al Sharpton were among those who spoke.

  • Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, one of the most successful recording executives, producers, and promoters in the hip hop world, and co-founder of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.
  • Jason Flom, president and CEO of LAVA records.
  • Reverend Al Sharpton, civil rights leader.

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