Current New York drug rehab programs have been helping addicts get clean for decades, but the city has even longer-standing problems with drug crime. Convicted offenders began getting help through NY drug treatment in the 1960s, but the War on Drugs soon led to massive overhauls in criminal law. Despite strict penalties for narcotics users, the problem worsened throughout the twentieth century and into today. If Americans intend to reduce addiction and drug crime, they need to understand the history of the laws regarding prohibition and New York drug rehab.
The War on Drugs
Federal officials have legislated against drug use for the last century, but the 1970s saw in explosion in the national governments’ prohibition efforts. Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in 1970, and President Nixon coined the term “The War on Drugs” a year later. Since then, governments at all levels have been mandating ever-stiffer penalties for drug possession. While these policies have resulted in millions of arrests and incarcerations, nationwide rates of drug abuse and addiction have continued to climb. Some people cry out for even more crackdowns, but many believe that the drug war’s policies actually make the problem worse.
New York’s Drug Problem
In the 1960s, public New York drug rehab programs were created in attempt to curb the state’s out-of-control addiction problem. The Narcotic Addiction and Control Commission was instated in 1967, but it proved to be expensive and ineffective. Legislators then created the Methadone Maintenance program to help addicts wean themselves off drugs, though it was similarly ineffective. By the early 1970s, New Yorkers were demanding tougher laws to combat addiction and violent drug crime.
The Rockefeller Laws
To address these concerns, New York officials created the so-called “Rockefeller Laws” in 1973. These laws mandated fifteen-year minimum sentences for people caught with four ounces of narcotics or more. This policy lead to vastly more arrests – often for nonviolent offenders – but New York saw no significant decrease in drug crime. Despite outcry from activists, other states proceeded to follow suit. Harsh penalties for both dealers and nonviolent drug users have since become the norm across the United States.
The Rockefeller Laws and other strict drug control measures have been controversial since they began to spread across the nation in the 1970s. Groups such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have harshly criticized these laws on the basis that they not only fail to reduce crime – but that they actually make it worse by shifting the drug trade into the black market. However, drug decriminalization and alternative sentencing options are still relatively unpopular. Even today, many citizens are still pushing for harsher penalties, “three-strikes” rules, and more prisons for drug offenders.
In 2004, a series of reforms drastically changed the Rockefeller Laws. The mandatory minimum sentence was reduced from fifteen to eight years, and nonviolent offenders gained the ability to plead for even lighter sentences. Judges were also given greater discretion, so that they could sentence people to rehab rather than prison. In the following years, arrests and incarcerations for drug crimes dropped dramatically. Unfortunately, many states throughout the country have failed to adopt similar reforms. In the last several years, funding has also been cut for prison rehab programs which have been shown to reduce recidivism. Overall, it seems that more states are going to need to follow New York’s lead for America to see a nationwide reduction in addiction and drug crime.
No matter how bad you’re struggling with addiction, you still have hope for a lasting recovery. Call the number above for a toll-free consultation with one of our trained counselors now. We can help you get started on a New York drug rehab program that will have you back on your feet and living the life you deserve.