(107) The New York State Assembly even stated that, in reference to extension of resentencing to A-II felons, "equity demands that eligible A-II drug offenders (a lesser offence [sic]) should also be allowed to appeal for re-sentencing under the new structure." (108) The legislature intended the 2005 DLRA to provide relief to those who were most impacted by the Rockefeller Drug Laws, A-II felons serving life sentences who committed relatively minor offenses.
The differences in how appellate divisions have interpreted the objectives of the 2005 DLRA, as shown by the First and Fourth Departments' decisions in Bautista and Morales, has produced curious results.
Mills because it was constrained by the "plain meaning" of the 2005 DLRA. (121) Judge Read, in writing for the court held that "Mills was less than three years from parole eligibility when he applied for resentencing ...
(126) Due to the ambiguous wording of the DLRA, however, which states that the inmate must merely be eligible for merit time, while simultaneously referring to section 803(1)(d) which specifies requirements for earning merit time, there has a been a split in the appellate divisions as to the interpretation of the DLRA that has led to further obstacles for A-II offenders to hurdle.
(129) The Appellate Division, Second Department found that the DLRA eligibility requirements of correction law section 803(1)(d) do not preclude an inmate, from whom merit time has been withheld, from seeking resentencing if he was eligible for merit time according to [section]803(1)(d)(ii).
According to the New York State Senate's memorandum in support of the 2005 DLRA, the Act was designed to extend resentencing to those A-II felony offenders who are eligible under provisions of section 803 of the correction law to earn merit time credit against their sentence.
The confusion and varying interpretations of the 2005 DLRA amount to resentencing being withheld from even more inmates sentenced under the old laws.
(143) Resentencing, however, is only half of the story since that provision of the DLRA applied retroactively.
The testimony developed along one common theme: The DLRA was incomplete and more reform was necessary in order to actually ameliorate the harshness of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
The first problem cited with the DLRA was its minimal impact on those most affected by the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
Furthermore, the incomplete modification displayed that the DLRA was nothing more than an appeasement of those who made efforts to move toward reform.
Consequently, the DLRA of 2004 and 2005 did not reduce the amount of drug-related offenders going to prison, but rather changed the offenses for which they were sent to prison and the amount of time they spent in prison.