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Senate passes two sentence enhancement reforms

As mandatory minimum sentences have once again come into favor federally, California is discussing a proposed law to repeal these requirements on some convictions. According to the Los Angeles Times, a bill recently passed the state Senate that would change state laws in regards to sentencing repeat offenders for drug convictions.

As the law currently stands, in addition to the three to five years in prison a person convicted of sale or possession for sale of drugs can receive, three years is added onto the sentence for each previous prior conviction for a similar drug offense. The bill that passed the senate with a 22-13 vote would remove that additional three-year enhancement. Those against the bill say it weakens sentencing laws available to judges. Those in favor of the bill state that creating longer sentences does not stop offenders, and that the current laws primarily single out minorities and are ineffective.

A report from Inglewood Today states that the Senate also passed a bill allowing judges to use their discretion when adding on an enhancement to a sentence for the use of a firearm. If the bill were to become law, it would not repeal firearm enhancements, as it would in the aforementioned case for drug offenses, but it would not require a judge to apply a sentence enhancement when they found it unfair. Leaving this enhancement on the books gives the judge the freedom to look at the merits of a case and determine if the person convicted of the crime fits the spirit of the law, rather than forcing an enhanced sentence onto a person the judge believes deserves a lighter punishment.

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