Monday, Idaho House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill that would give judges more leeway in handing down sentences in drug trafficking cases.
State representatives voted 46-20 to loosen laws that currently force judges to levy minimum sentences for those possessing a certain amount of drugs – regardless of the circumstances.
Backers of the bill say judges would still have the option to lock offenders up for the same amount of time.
But opponents, like Coeur d’Alene Republican Luke Malek – a former prosecutor himself – say crime would sharply increase if mandatory minimums were repealed.
“This has bent the curve and the curve will rise exponentially if we send a clear message to organized crime that Idaho is a good place to do business,” Malek says.
Others, like Representative Ron Nate (R-Rexburg), counter that young people who make a mistake shouldn’t have to serve between three and 10 years in prison, depending on which drug they’re caught with.
“That seems like a high price to pay for a youthful indiscretion,” Nate says.
The bill now goes before state senators.
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