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Colorado drug crime reform postponed until further study

In a previous drug crime post, we discussed how certain lawmakers in Colorado wanted to change sentencing related to drug charges. Senate Bill 12-163 would have decreased how harshly certain Colorado possession and trafficking cases would be handled and put more focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.

But that proposal has come to a halt, at least a temporary one. The proposal to reclassify some drug crimes as misdemeanors that used to be felonies caused enough worry within the system that lawmakers have decided it would be too soon to pass such a change. That change, however, could take place in about six months from now.

Sources report that the legislation won't be passed now. Instead, the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice will conduct a study into the matter to better assess what changing the drug laws would mean for the state. Based on that study, a new legislative proposal will be created to address the matter of drug crimes involving juveniles and those defendants whom some believe are drug addicts in need of treatment more than prison.

The mission behind the proposed legislation has been to lower the population in Colorado prisons and to actually address the root of the drug problems in the state -- addiction. Lawmakers for changing the laws wanted to take the money that would be saved by not putting certain offenders in prison and put it toward drug counseling and treatment programs.

It sounds like we will have a reason to revisit this matter by the end of the year. For now, Colorado's drug laws will remain as-is, meaning that a felony charge won't be uncommon for suspects.

Source: Health Policy Solutions, "Bill calling for drug misdemeanors morphs into a study," Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, April 26, 2012

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