This Op-Ed by Nicole Malliotakis originally appeared in the Brooklyn Reporter
Tyrone Howard, who viciously killed Police Officer Holder Tuesday night, benefited from misguided “reform” to our state’s drug laws to get out of prison and back on the streets.
Yes, Howard was released from prison and sent to a drug diversion program despite having been arrested 28 times, and now a police officer is dead.
Why was someone with 28 arrests even considered for diversion from prison and put into a drug treatment program? Because the law allowed it.
In 2009, the state legislature, of which I was not a member at the time, voted to reduce mandatory prison sentences for some drug offenses and eliminate minimum sentence for others. In addition, they carelessly gave judges the ability to send drug dealers who claim to be addicts to drug treatment programs followed by release instead of prison, without the approval of the district attorney.
New York Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin, who released Howard for drug treatment, defended his action and said yesterday, “He had four felony drug convictions, no violence.” Someone with four felony drug convictions should not have been released for treatment but, instead, put behind bars.
But it’s not just the mishandling of those being charged today. According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice, as of January, 2014, this law allowed 777 felons to be resentenced with 562 released from prison altogether. That’s 72 percent of drug felons released onto our streets.
This misguided policy is no doubt a contributing factor in the increase in drug and other crimes and the daunting drug epidemic plaguing our state today.
Allowing drug dealers to go to treatment with addicts arrested for minor offenses is simply stupid.