Improving the Rockefeller Drug Laws Persuasive Essay

An argument that the Rockefeller Drug Laws (1973) were a failure until they were reformed in 2009.
# 152148 | 1,262 words | 4 sources | APA | 2012 | US
Published on Jan 07, 2013 in Law (Criminal) , Criminology (Drugs Enforcement) , Political Science (General)

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The paper provides some background on the Rockefeller Drug Laws and then discusses how their initial implementation failed to deter crime, disproportionately hurt low-income citizens, and placed an unnecessary amount of strain on courts, prisons, and law enforcement agencies. The paper discusses the recent changes in these policies that shifts their focus from deterrence to rehabilitation, and asserts that with these changes, these policies have become more effective, more fair, and better for drug abusers, the government, and society as a whole.

From the Paper:

"While the idea of requiring significant penalties for violating these drug laws made sense in theory, the policies were largely ineffective in actual practice. While the number of people convicted for drug-related offences rose greatly, the amount of drug-related crime was not affected. By placing those dependent on highly-addictive substances into prisons without placing emphasis on rehabilitation, rates of recidivism increased; those opposed to the Rockefeller Drug Laws argue that the laws turn what should be a public health issue into a criminal issue, which prevents those impacted by these drugs from receiving proper treatment. Because of this, the Rockefeller Drug Laws of the 1970s had little--if any--impact on the likelihood of citizens using illegal drugs. The policies' failure to achieve their goal of decreasing the usage of illegal narcotics is enough of a reason to consider these policies to be failures.
"However, in addition to this failure, the Rockefeller Drug Laws introduced several additional problems to New York. The first of these problems is the issue of fairness in the the justice system. Opponents to the laws argue that the laws were unfair for two main reasons: First, the laws disproportionately impacted minorities and the poor; second, the laws prevented many from receiving proper treatment."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Gray, M. (2009, April 2). A Brief History Of New York's Rockefeller Drug Laws. TIME Magazine, Retrieved from,8599,1888864,00.html
  • Cuomo, A. M. (2009). 2009 Drug Law Changes June 2012 Update (Drug Law Series - Report No. 4). Retrieved from New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services website:
  • Kaestner, R. (1999). Does Drug Use Cause Poverty? In F. J. Chaloupka (Ed.), The Economic Analysis of Substance Use and Abuse: An Integration of Econometrics and Behavioral Economic Research (pp. 327 - 368). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Racial Justice. (n.d.). Retrieved from New York Civil Liberties Union website:

Cite this Persuasive Essay:

APA Format

Improving the Rockefeller Drug Laws (2013, January 07) Retrieved September 21, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Improving the Rockefeller Drug Laws" 07 January 2013. Web. 21 September. 2023. <>