Lawmakers Seek To Reduce Colorado Drug Penalties

March 20, 2012 12:00 AM

Lawmakers Seek To Reduce Colorado Drug Penalties
" DENVER (AP) – Colorado lawmakers are proposing reduced penalties for some drug possession offenses in a move that supporters say is aimed at ensuring offenders get treatment instead of long prison sentences.

The bill introduced in the Senate Tuesday would drop some offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and represents another attempt by lawmakers to decrease the prison population and cut expenses in the Department of Corrections.

The proposal would require that any possible savings be directed to drug treatment.

Republican Sen. Shawn Mitchell, one of the lawmakers leading the way on the legislation, has spoken publicly about the toll meth addiction has taken on his younger brother and said he wants a more sensible approach against drugs.

“The war on drugs has made government more powerful, citizens less free, and hasn’t helped users or addicts,” Mitchell said. “I want to push a smarter effort against drugs … I want to stop piling people into prisons and stop branding people with a felony for a personal weakness.”

Mitchell said he questioned the government’s handling of drug crimes even before his experience with his brother "

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