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Posted: Thursday, 03 April 2014 7:05AM

Lawmakers debate reduced pot penalties today

Even as bills that would send people to jail longer for heroin crimes are advancing through the legislature, lawmakers are also considering bills to reduce the penalties in certain marijuana-related crimes.
Criminal justice reform advocates have been backing these bills. Greg Thompson, of the group "Louisianians for Responsible Reform" says locking people up is expensive.

"We need to be smart with our tax dollars, and we're not really keeping the public any safer by spending these exorbitant amounts locking folks up for simple marijuana possession charges," Thompson said.  "I'm not saying that we should be soft or anything like that in terms of how we approach crime, but we need to be a lot smarter."
A pair of bills are set for a hearing today. One would take simple marijuana possession off the list habitual offenses, meaning repeat convictions don't automatically lead to decades-long prison terms. Another would set new limits on maximum jail time for marijuana possession that are far lower than the current standards.

(image from Torben Hansen via Flickr/Creative Commons)

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