U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bipartisan Legislation Reforming Drug Laws

Most Expansive Drug Sentencing Reform in Decades Would Reduce Mandatory Minimums, Give Judges More Discretion, and Release Some Nonviolent Drug Offenders from Prison Earlysmartact

Today the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed bipartisan sentencing reform legislation that would reduce the federal prison population, decrease racial disparities, save taxpayer money, and reunite nonviolent drug law offenders with their families sooner.  The reforms are supported by a strange bedfellows group of senators, including Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

“The tide has turned against punitive drug policies that destroy lives and tear families apart,“ said Bill Piper, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. “From liberal stalwarts to Tea Party favorites there’s now consensus that our country incarcerates too many people, for too much time, at too much expense to taxpayers.”

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California Assembly Approves Measure Reforming State’s Drug Possession Laws

California’s full Assembly recently approved Senate Bill 649, a measure to reform the state’s drug laws, which has already been approved by the Senate. The proposal now heads back to the Senate for approval of amendments, before going to the governor for final approval.california

Under Senate Bill 649, judges and prosecutors will be given the option of charging drug possession cases as misdemeanors, rather than felonies, a move which could save millions in tax-payer money, and put a stop to some of the overcrowding that occurs on behalf of the drug war. In California there are roughly 10,000 drug possession charges each year, not including cannabis.

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