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Mandatory minimum sentencing bill hearing scheduled

Posted at 6:16 PM, Mar 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-12 20:43:29-04

As the 2017 legislative session is close to coming to a halt, there are still some major topics up for discussion. This Wednesday lawmakers will hold a hearing for bipartisan legislation that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for drug-related offenses. 

The idea is to update the 1992 legislation in order to line the law up with other criminal code. Supporters say the burden of housing inmates for long periods of time is costing tax payers more than $7 million a year and could also give people with a first offense a second chance. 

For example, Idaho Rep. Ilana Rubel says she knows of a 17-year-old with a drug possession charge who is now facing a minimum 15-year prison sentence.

"There may be cases where it makes sense to lock someone up for that long but we should let the judges decide and look at the particulars of the case," she said. "And, they would still be able to issue big sentences if they feel it's appropriate but I don't think we should force it."

The public is welcome to provide their input on the issue at the hearing that starts at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday inside the Lincoln Auditorium.