Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jan 2005
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2005 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Warren Redlich
Bookmark: (Rockefeller Drug Laws)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


Andrew Cuomo's op-ed article on drug policy ("Prison inmates, Republican 
constituents," Jan. 19) was disappointing.

The impact of inmate populations on political districts is a phony issue. 
There are approximately 72,000 inmates in our state prisons. While that 
number is far too high, it is smaller than the population of an Assembly 
district and trivial when it comes to political districting.

One might ask where Andrew Cuomo was when his father did nothing about drug 
policy reform. Federal drug sentencing is often harsher than the 
Rockefeller Drug Laws, yet Cuomo never criticized Bill Clinton for doing 
nothing. If drug policy reform is a Democrat issue, why isn't Eliot Spitzer 
challenging it in court? Instead, Spitzer's office enthusiastically 
participates in the prosecutions.

Cuomo's solution -- judicial discretion -- is also phony. While some judges 
exercise their discretion in favor of leniency, others impose harsher 
sentences than the minimums. Judicial discretion leads to arbitrary 
sentencing. Real drug policy reform restores discretion to people.

That brings us to Andrew Cuomo's real purpose. He's playing hatchet man for 
his party -- trying to turn Gov. George Pataki into the latest boogeyman. 
It's political games, raising the other guy's negatives. I'm not satisfied 
with the latest reforms, but the current crop of Democrat proposals are not 
that different.

If Cuomo and Spitzer want to embody the drug policy reform movement, let 
them embrace its mantra -- no one should go to prison for what they put in 
their body.


The writer was the 2004 Republican candidate for 21st Congressional 
District of New York.
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