Drug Sentencing Reductions Prompt Legislative Battle
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A legislative game of tug-of-war is brewing over looming reductions to prison sentences for some major drug offenders.
The state's sentencing commission passed the changes late last year, slashing sentence guidelines for first- and second-degree possession convictions. But county prosecutors balked and some Republicans have vowed to block the changes before they take effect in August.
A top Senate Democrat announced plans Wednesday to expand the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission's changes. Sen. Ron Latz wants the reduced sentences to apply to current inmates, not just new offenders.
That wide divide sets the stage for the changes to take effect unscathed. Both the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-majority Senate would need to reject the reductions to undo them.
It's intertwined with a debate surrounding Minnesota's overstretched prison facilities. Lawmakers return March 8.