I respond to a letter from Cindy Cooper. I feel great sympathy for what happened to her son. That is why I, along with the APD and Cayuga County Sheriff's Office, have been working to get drug dealers out of our community. It is also the reason we too have supported H.E.A.L. and their efforts to help other families avoid similar pain through education and increased treatment resources.
For more than 20 years the New York State District Attorney’s Association has fought against efforts to weaken drug laws, including Gov. Paterson’s 2009 law allowing convicted drug dealers judicial diversion-community supervision instead of prison.
The reality is that local law enforcement and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office oppose convicted “drug dealers” being granted judicial diversion. One such case involved two time convicted drug dealer Britny Hamilton, who despite our strong opposition was granted diversion. Hamilton had recently been released (from prison) on parole when the Finger Lakes Drug Task Force caught her selling narcotics again in our community. She now stands convicted of 14 additional felony counts for selling narcotics and conspiracy, running a drug ring involving at least three other drug dealers. And she is now back out on community supervision, instead of serving a prison sentence.
As district attorney I am aware that so much of the other crime, violence, and misery in this community encounters comes as a direct result of drug selling and the addiction it feeds off. We work hard to discern between addicts selling drugs to support addiction and drug dealers claiming to be addicts to avoid punishment.
Ms. Cooper referred to the case of a 50-year-old woman who had never had any trouble with the law and claimed addiction. I assure you that Judge Fandrich and I are trying very hard to balance the need for punishment, and deterrence, against the dynamics of addiction. I welcome the community’s input and assistance.
Jon Budelmann is the Cayuga County district attorney