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Mandatory Minimums for Drug Crimes May Eventually Disappear

Brian J Smith June 15, 2015

High costs have many states reconsidering their approach to punishing certain crimes, and mandatory minimums for convicted drug users could be eliminated in Massachusetts.

Some States Considering More Lenient Stance on Drug Crimes

While Las Vegas is often seen as a haven for partying and bad behavior, not everything is allowed while spending time in Sin City. Nevada has some of the strictest drug laws in the United States. Hypothetically, this could change in the future as other states like Massachusetts are reconsidering some of the harsher drug-related penalties.

Situation in Massachusetts

A repeal of mandatory sentences for drug convictions is among the proposed changes senators in Massachusetts are considering, and one approach could allow for a “justice reinvestment” program that gives job training to previous offenders. Many states are thinking about making changes to their criminal justice policies as high prison populations lead to heavy financial burdens. Incarceration rates have been increasing in the U.S. since 1970, and around 2.3 million people are currently incarcerated.

Mandatory Minimums and Addicts

While crime has decreased and incarceration has increased, it is difficult to determine if a greater prison population actually played a role in reducing crime. It is unclear if the governor will support all the changes lawmakers are proposing, but he did state that there needed to be better ways for those dealing with drug problems to receive treatment. Chief Justice of Massachusetts Ralph D. Gants also commented that sending addicts to jail is not the right solution.

The attorney general supports eliminating some of the mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and is in favor of a bill repealing the suspension of driver’s licenses for those convicted of drug crimes. The previous law carried as much as a five-year license suspension even if a drug conviction was unrelated to operating a vehicle. A former supporter of mandatory minimums also said he was not sure of the value the minimums provided as his experience showed that some people had large sentences for nonviolent crimes.

Many states are backing away from harsher penalties for drug users, but a drug lawyer in Las Vegas can best assess the state’s current position when one is accused of a drug-related crime.