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CA Bill Calls For Nixing Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Certain Drug Offenses

A new California legislation aims to end mandatory jail sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
A new California legislation aims to end mandatory jail sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
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New legislation proposed by California Sen. Scott Wiener calls for ending mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, a move legal experts say largely aligns with the state’s objectives over the last couple decades. 

Senate Bill 73 aims to help address incarceration rates and the criminalization of addiction. According to the San Francisco Examiner, judges currently lack discretion when a person is convicted of a second drug offense, even possession. The bill offers judges more discretion and the ability to sentence offenders to probation. Officials say the move aligns with California’s Proposition 36, which requires people convicted of possession and other substance related offenses, receive probation and treatment rather than jail time. Voters approved the measure in 2000. But some question whether the sale or transport of substances should be considered “nonviolent.” Today on AirTalk, we walk through the bill and its potential consequences. Do you have thoughts or questions? Join the conversation by calling 866-893-5722. 


Mason Marks, M.D.,  assistant professor of law at Gonzaga University, where he focuses on health law and drug policy law, and fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School; he tweets @MasonMarksMD

Eric Siddall, vice president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles; he tweets @EricSiddall