Oregon Police Call for Drug Defelonization

DefelonizationIn a press release sent Monday the Oregon Association of Police Chiefs and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association have jointly called for the personal possession of all drugs to be defelonized. This would mean that if a person is in possession of an illegal substance, as long as it’s not for distribution purposes, it would no longer be a felony charge, instead being reduced to a misdemeanor, a much lower penalty that carries a maximum prison sentence of one year, compared to a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The two organizations are calling for this change in part because felony drug charges “include unintended and collateral consequences including barriers to housing and employment and a disparate impact on minority communities.” They say that elected officials and prosecutors should craft “a more thoughtful approach to drug possession when it is the only crime committed”.

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Bill to Defelonize Drug Possession Passed Into law in Maine

MaineLD 1554, a proposal to defelonize the personal possession of drugs such as cocaine and heroin, has been passed into law in Maine. The measure has become law without the signature of Governor Paul LePage.

Under the proposed law, the personal possession of small amounts of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth and oxycodone would no longer carry with it a potential felony charge, but instead would be punishable by a much less severe misdemeanor. The vote for the bill in the House of Representatives was 132 to 17, while support in the Senate was unanimous, 35 to 0. It was introduced by Republican Senator Kimberley Rosen, with five bipartisan cosponsors.

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Connecticut Governor Signs Drug Sentencing Reform Bill

Governor Dannel Malloy signing House Bill 7104 into law.
Governor Dannel Malloy signing House Bill 7104 into law.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has signed his Second Chance Society bill into law, significantly reforming the state’s drug laws.

The new law, in addition to other changes, removes felony charges for the first-time, personal possession of illegal substances, reducing the offense to a misdemeanor. This would reduce the maximum jail sentence to one year, down from seven years.

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Bill to Defelonize Personal Drug Possession Filed in U.S. Congress

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN).
Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) has filed House Resolution 2153, a proposal to make some federal drug crimes a misdemeanor rather than a felony, while simultaneously eliminating the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

HR 2153, To “reclassify certain low-level felonies as misdemeanors, to eliminate the increased penalties for cocaine offenses where the cocaine involved is cocaine base, to reinvest in our communities, and for other purposes”, has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, the House Energy Committee, and the House Education and Workforce Committee.

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Utah Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission Endorses Defelonizing Drug Possession

Utah’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission has utahunveiled a package of recommendations to control prison growth, including a proposal to make the personal possession of illegal substances a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

According to the report, Utah’s prison population is projected to grow by 37% over the next two 20 years, at a cost of over half a billion dollars of taxpayer money. Among the recommendations the Commission makes in order to deal with this growth, is to defelonize the first-time personal possession of drugs.

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