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Will Colorado treat some drug charges with more understanding?

"You can overcome addiction, but you can never overcome a felony," says the executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. This argument stems from a legislative proposal that met the state Senate this week.

The proposal seeks to reduce the sentencing related to certain incidents of drug possession in Colorado. It would reclassify certain drug offenses as misdemeanor crimes that are currently considered felonies. Along with a change in classification, the proposal looks to shift the sentencing focus in such cases to rehabilitation.

It's no secret that prisons are full and that it costs the state a significant amount of money to incarcerate one single person every year. Supporters of this drug crime proposal would like to see the estimated $32,000 it takes to incarcerate a drug offender every year and reallocate that money to services that would treat that person's addiction.

Not all defendants would be eligible for the lower classification of a drug possession conviction and the more lenient sentencing. The possession of four grams or less of heroin, LSD, marijuana, cocaine and some painkillers (scheduled I and II drugs) would be reclassified as a misdemeanor, as would the possession of two grams or less of methamphetamine.

The proposed sentencing change comes from its supporters looking at drug offenders less as criminals and more as sick people who need help battling drug addiction. By more effectively combating addiction through treatment versus punishing it with prison, advocates for the Colorado proposal hope that future drug crime would decrease in the state.

Source

Boulder Daily Camera: "Colorado lawmakers seeking to reduce drug possession penalties," Ivan Moreno, Mar. 30, 2012

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