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New York Appeals Court Reduces Drug Sentence as "Unduly Harsh"


July 1993

A New York appellate court reduced by nearly half a 10- to 20-year drug sentence imposed on a 63-year-old man for selling two vials of cocaine to an undercover police officer for $10 (Update, New York Law Journal, 6/24/93, pp. 1, 22).

In a concurring opinion in People v. Perez justices John Carro and Theodore Kuperman wrote: "In considering this sentencing issue I cannot help but question whether the hemorrhage of taxpayer funds used to warehouse thousands of low-level drug users and sellers for long periods of time in our dangerously overcrowded prisons at a cost of $35,000 per year per inmate in addition to the capital expenditure of $180,000 per prison cell could not be more productively and humanely directed toward prevention, through education, and treatment of drug addiction. The increasingly unavoidable conclusion, that with the passage of time is becoming more widely recognized and articulated by respected representatives of our criminal justice system, is that the primary method currently utilized to deal with the drug epidemic, essentially an effort to eliminate the availability of drugs on our streets, while increasing inordinately the length of prison terms for low-level drug offenders, has failed."

According to attorney Stanley Neustadter, who supplied the clipping to NewsBriefs, Kupferman is a Republican, "the most pro-prosecution judge in the courthouse," and has been on the bench for 20 years. "For him to express these views," wrote Neustadter, "is, to put it mildly, shocking."