Idaho Considers Bill to Lessen Mandatory Minimums
A bill introduced in Idaho to allow judges to depart below state mandatory minimum sentencing laws for defendants marginally involved in drug dealing will get a full hearing before the state's House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee.
The bill is co-sponsored by three Republicans and one Democrat.
Idaho now has 7,400 people behind bars. More than half of them are there due to drug-related offenses. The state has shipped about 500 people to other states because there's no more room in prisons in Idaho.
Under the bill, judges could opt for shorter, treatment-focused sentences for addicts convicted of drug-dealing crimes, on the presumption that if they get clean they're less likely to re-offend.
One Republican legislator says of the bill,
"Our prisons are pumped full. It would be nice to give judges discretion about whether to send somebody to prison or to some other treatment program. In reality, they're the ones that are sitting on the front lines, not the legislators who are making the laws."
Another bill pending in the state would expand drug courts. Hopefully we'll see other states -- and ultimately the feds -- follow suit.
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