Panel hears support, concern for easing drug-crime sentences - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Copy-Panel hears support, concern for easing drug-crime sentences

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - -

Ahead of an impending vote on drug sentencing changes, a Minnesota commission is hearing both support and concern for easing the penalties for possession and drug dealing.

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission received emotional testimony Wednesday as members weighed a proposal for drug-crime leniency.

The Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/1QYtLw3 ) that people with prior felony convictions spoke of their trouble escaping addictions that made them into criminals. Prosecutors and law enforcement officials said they feared lowering sentences would send the wrong message to drug dealers.

The commission intends to vote next week on plans to revise drug sentences. The leading proposal is from Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Christopher Dietzen.

The changes would take hold in August unless the Legislature blocks them.

Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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