After relentless protests
and campaigns to increase awareness of New York’s famously
harsh Rockefeller Drug Laws, the Hip-Hop Summit Action
Network (HSAN), headed by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, has induced lawmakers
to enact significant reforms.
of HSAN, said hip-hop played a major role in revisions of the Rockefeller Drug
Laws, as artists actively disputed the strict regulations, which require judges
to issue mandatory minimum sentences to drug offenders.
because of the artists. There’s no way that it would have
happened without the help of Jay-Z and Puffy and all the people who contributed,"
Simmons told AllHipHop.com. "All those people really worked
hard, they pushed, and it’s really the power of hip-hop that
made that happen. People came out, it was a big deal."
Leader Joseph Bruno and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have reached a
bi-partisan legislative agreement to restructure the minimum sentencing terms
of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, which have been in place for more than 30 years
in New York.
Under the Drug
Laws, the possession of four ounces or sale of two ounces of certain controlled
substances warranted a penalty of 15 years to life in prison, and possession
of two ounces or the sale of half an ounce, three years to life in prison, according
to the Drug Policy Alliance website.
and CEO Dr. Benjamin Chavis called the law reforms a significant progress.
community hopes that the new provisions proposed will bring retroactive relief
to those unjustly incarcerated in the state prison system," Chavis said
in a statement.
Simmons also stressed
that the changes are a gateway to a greater goal.
"A lot of
people are going to come home as a result of the retroactives," Simmons
said. "This is the first step. There [are] laws like this all over the
HSAN is a non-profit,
non-partisan organization of artists, entertainment industry leaders, education
advocates, civil rights supporters and youth leaders, who see hip-hop as an
important foundation for social change.