Message from the Chair
As Chair of the Standing Committee on Correction, I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on the
activities of the Committee during the 2003 Legislative Session.
The Committee has worked diligently to introduce and pass legislation to improve public safety by addressing vital
issues of public concern including reforming New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, and strengthening several New
York State statutes including the Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA), and the Sex Offender Registration Act, also
known as Megan’s Law.
The Assembly has been at the forefront of legislative efforts to improve public safety and to provide greater protections
to victims of crime. The Committee on Correction will continue to work with the legislature and the public towards this
goal during the 2004 Legislative Session.
Jeffrion Aubry, Chair
NYS Assembly Committee on Correction
Room 526 LOB
Albany, NY 12248
...at a Glance
2003 Legislative Highlights
Rockefeller Drug Law Reform – A.7078(Aubry)
New York’s draconian Rockefeller drug laws have resulted in unfairly long prison sentences for many non-violent drug offenders.
They have also cost state taxpayers billions of dollars in prison costs to house low-level, non-violent drug offenders who would
be better placed in longterm drug treatment. There are approximately 18,000 drug offenders in New York State correctional
facilities. It costs the state approximately 30,000 dollars per year to house each of these inmates. Among many other provisions,
New York law currently requires a mandatory sentence of 15-25 years to life in prison for the possession of 4 ounces or the
sale or attempted sale of 2 ounces of narcotics. Furthermore, under current law, the possession of a single grain of a
narcotic (i.e., a quantity equal in size and weight to one grain of sand) with the intent to sell it, subjects an offender to a
prison term of up to 25 years, regardless of whether or not any additional aggravating circumstances exist.
This legislation, introduced by Chairman Aubry, would enact the Drug Reform, Drug Treatment and Crime Reduction
Act of 2003. Its key components are: (1) provide for judicial discretion in sentencing drug defendants; (2) enhance drug
treatment programs to help eliminate drug addiction; (3) significantly reduce prospective sentences; (4) provide meaningful
sentencing relief to currently incarcerated offenders; and (5) provide for tough targeted penalties against drug kingpins,
violent drug dealers and drug dealers who prey on children.
This bill was passed in the Assembly in June 2003, and is awaiting action in the Senate.
Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision
Chairman Aubry sponsored this legislation which enacts the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, to control
and regulate the interstate movement of probationers and parolees released into the community through the cooperative
efforts of member states. This bill was signed into law in October 2003. (A.851/S.5202;
Session Laws of New York 2003, Chapter 688)
Second Chance Program
Chairman Aubry sponsored this legislation which would permit any eligible person, within five years of completing their prison
sentence, to apply to their sentencing court to have all records relating to convictions for designated offenses, sealed. Eligibility
criteria includes no more than two non-violent, non-sexual felonies, and misdemeanors involving the sale, distribution or
possession of controlled substances. Additional eligibility criteria include successful completion of the Second Chance
Program approved by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. This bill was referred to the Assembly Rules Committee
in 2003 (A.850 – Aubry)
Inmates’ Application for Medical Assistance Ninety (90) Days Prior to Release
Chairman Aubry sponsored this legislation which requires the Superintendent of each NYS correctional facility to ensure that an
application for medical assistance is filed with the Department of Health for each inmate not less than 90 days prior to the
inmate’s release from such facility, and requires the head of each local correctional facility to ensure that an application for
medical assistance is filed within seven days of commitment, for each inmate sentenced for more than thirty days. This filing
process will enable inmates who are released into the community to obtain immediate medical treatment, particularly in cases
of illnesses such as mental disorders, HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C (A.5380/S.3358). This bill
was referred to the Assembly Ways & Means Committee.
Article VII Legislation - Early Release of Inmates
This budget legislation allows the Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), in his sole discretion,
to take one-third (1/3) off the minimum sentence of Class A-1 non-violent drug offenders with exemplary disciplinary and
program participation records, and for such offenders to be eligible for parole release at this lower minimum sentence,
through this modification of the Merit Time Program. For example, an eligible offender serving a sentence of 15 years to life
could be released after serving ten years. This legislation also provides the discretion to release certain non-violent offenders
who complete DOCS program requirements after their minimum sentence or “presumptive release,” which is functionally
equivalent to parole.
Eligible inmates who were not granted presumptive release would still be required to appear before the Parole Board.
Approximately 1300 inmates are estimated to be released under this bill over the 2003-04 Fiscal Year. This bill would also
end parole for eligible inmates after two years instead of the current three years. (A.2106B, Part E, Sections 1-15)
Work Release Extended to Victims of Abuse
This legislation authorizes the Commissioner of DOCS to permit certain offenders convicted of homicide or assault crimes,
who are within two years of parole eligibility, to participate in a Temporary Release Program, provided that such offenders
demonstrate that: the victim was a member of the inmate’s immediate family; the inmate was subjected to substantial
physical, sexual or psychological abuse by the victim of homicide or assault; and, such abuse was a substantial factor
in causing the inmate to commit the homicide or assault. The legislation also requires the Commissioner of the Department
of Correctional Services to consider the opinions of the district attorney and the sentencing court.
(Session Laws of New York 2002, Chapter 251)
Prison Health Care
This legislation authorizes the Commissioner of Correction, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, to develop
programs to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis C and HIV among correctional employees and
inmates. There are more than 105,000 inmates in city, county, and state correctional facilities in New York State. Approximately
65,000 of these inmates are in New York State prisons, 6,000 of whom are estimated to be HIV positive. The development and
implementation of education and outreach programs would not only reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in
prisons, but also reduce health care costs to treat these illnesses. (A.3940A-Gottfried, Aubry, et al)
Custody and Supervision of Inmates - Civilian Personnel
This legislation amends New York City Administrative Code S9-117, as recently amended by Chapter 535 of the Laws of
2002, to clarify that incidental supervision and custody of inmates may be maintained by non-uniformed employees of, or
persons under contract to, the New York City Department of Correction. In September, 2002, Governor Pataki signed into
law Chapter 535 of the Laws of 2002, which requires that the duty of maintaining the custody and supervision of persons
detained or confined by the New York City Department of Correction be performed solely by members of the uniformed force,
and prohibits such duty from being delegated, transferred or assigned in whole or in part to private persons or entities.
(A.7427/S5098, Session Laws of New York 2003, Chapter 629)
Custody and Supervision of Inmates - Prohibition of Private Guards
This legislation prohibits the replacement of state and local correction officers by private guards. The correction law is amended
by providing that the duty of maintaining the custody and supervision of persons detained or confined in a correctional facility
shall be performed by peace officers who shall be in the competitive, non-competitive or exempt class of the civil service of
New York state as determined by the state or applicable local civil service commission.
(A.7428A/S/4734A, Session Laws of New York 2003, Chapter 629)
Sexual Assault Reform Act
The Sexual Reform Act of 2000 provided for the comprehensive reform of laws relating to sex offenses and other crimes by
extending protection to additional victims, facilitating prosecutions through numerous procedural reforms and enhancing
penalties. The Assembly acted to strengthen and improve SARA in 2003 by closing the gaps in the law with more effective
safeguards and tougher penalties.
Stronger Protections for Sexual Assault Victims
This legislation amends the Sexual Assault Reform Act of 2000. It provides for stronger protections for
individuals who are sexually assaulted by their spouses, the creation of the Sexual Assault Forensic Payment
Program, the setting of effective penalties for forcible touching and persistent sexual abuse, and greater
protection against date rape drugs. (A.9116/S.5690; Session Laws of New York 2003,
Megan’s Law Amendments
The Assembly acted to strengthen and improve Megan’s Law in 2002 (Session Laws of New York 2002, Chapter 11). The
amendment enhanced state law for monitoring sex offenders, and expanded the list of offenses for which convicted offenders
must register with local authorities to include offenses in which the victim is a minor, as well as persistent sexual abuse,
facilitating a sex offense with a controlled substance, first degree disseminating indecent materials to minors and sexual
assault crimes prosecuted under other state statutes. Among its other provisions, the Megan’s Law Amendment extends
the period of time for which sex offenders must register with local authorities for specific offenses and requires offenders
who attend educational institutions outside of their home communities to register as offenders in both locations. This 2002
amendment also brought New York law into compliance with federal statutes that require states to enact a number of
specific mandates under Megan’s Law in order to receive their full share of funding under the anti-drug grant program.
Photograph Dissemination of Level II Sex Offenders
This legislation requires the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction to include a photograph and description for
all notifications of a designated Level II sex offender to any entity with vulnerable populations.
This legislation also provides that law enforcement may disseminate certain relevant information of a
Level III sex offender. (A.707/S.5571; Session Laws of New York, Chapter 316)
This legislation, also known as Stephanie’s Law, would make it a Class E felony to photograph or videotape
individuals in the most private circumstances without their consent. It would also make it a felony for a
photographer or an accomplice to distribute these photographs or videotapes, and bans anyone from knowingly
disseminating such unlawful images. This bill would also require that those who repeatedly commit video voyeurism
crimes be charged with a Class D felony and face up to seven years in prison. This bill amends the penal law, and the
correction law in relation to requiring offenders to register as sex offenders under the Sex Offender Registration Act, also
known as Megan’s Law. (A.8926/S3060-B; Session Laws of New York 2003, Chapter 69)
False Dissemination of Sex Offender Information
This legislation makes it a Class A misdemeanor to falsely identify someone as a sex offender or to distribute such
information independently of the authorized agency required by law to release such information.
(A.5748/S.948; Session Laws of New York 2003, Chapter 200)
Current Sex Offender Registry Photos
This legislation amends the correction law to require that a photo be taken at the time of registration for sex offender
registrants. If a current photo is not taken, this legislation requires that the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services
shall provide a disclaimer explaining when the photo on the registry was taken. New York’s current sex offender
registry does not require that the photo be current as of the time of registration. The bill improves upon the general
purpose of the Sex Offender Registry — to allow victims and members of the community to have access to current photos
of sex offender registrants. (A.8758-Grannis, Aubry, et al; Passed Assembly)
Sex Offender Must Provide Employment Address
This legislation requires a Level III sex offender to provide his or her employment address to the NYS Division of
Criminal Justice Services. (A.1109/S.246; Session Laws of New York 2003, Chapter 10)