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Possible Changes Coming for Drug Crime Sentencing

December 22, 2016 07:37 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) – In just a week Minnesota could change how it sentences people with drug conviction on their record.

In August, prison sentences for drug convictions were changed in Minnesota. Agencies like the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association agreed on the changes however a proposal for new changes doesn’t have them on board.

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“Honestly I don’t understand why? What are they trying to accomplish?” said Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem.

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission will vote on a proposal to essentially change how past drug offenses are looked at. For example, someone’s previous drug convictions would carry less weight on sentencing for a new crime.

Ostrem sits on the MCAA Foundation Board and says this proposal would help drug dealers.

“What the Sentence Guidelines Commission is trying to do right now is to say anybody that was convicted of a drug offense before August 1 should get the benefit of the new laws,” added Ostrem.

Criminal defense attorney David Liebow has represented many people with drug convictions and says the new changes would help the current drug addiction problem statewide.

“I think it reflects an increasing understanding in society of something beyond just say ‘no’. The idea that people have real mental health and chemical health problems who can really end up in a lot of trouble based more on those addictions than anything that they really want to be doing or doing to spread evil in the world,” says Liebow.

Ostrem says the changes would give big time drug dealers a lesser sentence which he says could be a public safety risk.

“The people that we and everybody wants to go to prison for the longest period of time, they’re the ones that are going to get the benefit,” added Ostrem.

The Sentencing Guidelines Commission will vote on the proposed changes on December 30. 


Credits

Karsen Forsman

Copyright 2016 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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