Eda Katharine Tinto


The Role of Gender and Relationship in Reforming the Rockefeller Drug Laws

Eda Katharine Tinto

In recent years, New York’s drug sentencing laws–the Rockefeller Drug Laws–have come under attack due to their failure to reduce drug use despite the growing prison population. The political and academic communities now are debating how best to reform these laws. In this Note, Eda Tinto highlights the absence of a much needed discussion regarding the sentencing of certain women drug offenders. Qualitative studies have demonstrated that an underlying context of many women’s drug crimes is their involvement in an intimate relationship with a partner who uses or sells drugs. Tinto argues that these women drug offenders are often less blameworthy than other offenders and that therefore the sentences for their crimes are often unjust. Tinto concludes that the context of an intimate relationship should be acknowledged in sentencing and proposes reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.