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December 15, 2005


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I just read the Legal Aid Society's report. True, sentencing reform was the biggest component of the DLRA - an act which was widely supported by NY District Attorneys. You may recall that Robert Morgenthau ran reform of the Rockefeller drug laws as his latest campaign platform. But, as the Times article points out, the idea was never wholesale release, but reevaluation of the several hundred or so sentences which stemmed from convictions under the old sentencing laws. Some have been released, others have not. The "spirit of the law" does not call for the DA to roll over and consent to the release of EVERY drug offender sentenced under the old law, nor should it - particularly in the adversarial system, such as it is.

The DAs don't have the final word, the judges do. Without the case files in front of us (rhetorically), a debate would be pointless. I hope the DA's are not blindly arguing against release of every offender as a blanket policy - that would be a disgrace - but without knowing the circumstances of each recommendation - its counterproductive to blame this all on the DAs. Just as it would be counterproduct to fault the defense bar for their hypothetical ineptitude for failing to take advantage of these reforms to get these innocents out of prison.

PS: I enjoy your blog, and the debate. Thanks for taking the time for both.

Nicole Black

wdegraw--First of all, I don't believe that I blamed the *entire* problem on ADAs, although I will admit that I placed a fair amount of the blame upon their collective shoulders.

And, while I would agree that, more likely than not, many DA's offices do not have a blanket policy re: opposing the re-sentencings, it would not surprise me one bit if *some* of the DA's offices do have a blanket policy of that nature.

I think that if the release rate due to re-sentencings was closer to 50 or 60%, I might feel as if the "spirit" of the new law was being followed. But, a rate of only 30% is abysmal, in my opinion.

And, perhaps it is counterproductive to blame the DAs, but c'mon, cut me some slack! I'm a defense attorney at heart--I can't help myself!

And,thanks for reading my blog and commenting (and I believe that I fixed the problem that you'd mentioned in another post re: being re-directed to another web site when posting.)


Yep. The commenting problem is fixed. I wouldn't be surprised about the "some" part either. A prosecutor without discretion (and even then, its all relative) is a prosecutor incapable of doing his job justly.

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