Changes to Minnesota Drug Sentencing Guidelines Voted Down

December 30, 2016 11:59 AM

State leaders have decided not to pass changes to drug sentencing guidelines. The proposal would have changed how prior drug convictions on a person's record would be factored into sentences for new convictions.

KSTP's Cleo Greene reports commissioners didn't think it did enough to help drug addicts. 


The proposal had drawn strong opposition from some law enforcement groups and prosecutors.

RELATED: Old Convictions, New Laws: Why State Wants to Give Less Weight to Criminal Drug Histories

Earlier this year, prison sentences for drug convictions changed. That new law punishes drug dealers more harshly than drug users. It was an effort to cut down on prosecuting addiction and reduce prison overcrowding. The change was only for new drug convictions.

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission had been working to lessen the impact of minor drug offenses if someone commits a new crime. During a public hearing in mid-December, defense attorneys and drug addiction advocates said the proposal is a necessary tool to reduce racial sentencing disparities in the state.

County prosecutors said they were worried the modification could mean that some violent offenders would receive lesser sentences.


Cleo Greene

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