TREATMENT SAVINGS

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FYI: New York could save more than $164 million a year if it reformed the Rockefeller drug sentencing laws in the manner an Assembly bill is seeking, according to a Legal Action Center study released yesterday. In each of the last two years, the Senate has passed its own sentencing reform bill, backed by Governor Pataki, which reduces the sentence for only the highest level, or Class A, drug offenders. The Assembly continues to balk at that bill, calling it an effort to stymie deeper reforms and pushing its own version, which would also reduce sentences and offer treatment options rather than prison terms to second tier, or Class B, offenders. The Legal Action Center report estimates the Assembly bill would have sent nearly 3,900 drug offenders in jail in 2001 to substance abuse treatment programs instead, saving the state $60,000 on each person. The governor’s office said the report’s numbers are inflated and dismissed it as a lobbying trick to push the Assembly bill. [3/21/03]