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State lawmakers seek end to mandatory sentences for some drug crimes

Senate sends governor bill that would eliminate mandatory 90-day jail sentences for some drug crimes

The state Senate on Thursday gave final legislative approval to a measure that would eliminate mandatory 90-day jail sentences for some drug crimes while supporters fended off an attempted hostile amendment to oppose the state cap-and-trade program.

The measure, which now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration, would apply to those with a first-time conviction for being under the influence of specified controlled substances.

The measure is aimed at diverting more drug users to rehabilitation programs, according to Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles). “Evidence has shown that mandatory minimum sentences are not effective in reducing crime,” Mitchell said.

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said money was better spent elsewhere than incarceration. “Treatment is more effective,” he said.

AB 2492 by Assemblyman Reginald Jones Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) passed on a 21-11 vote after Republicans made an unsuccessful attempt to amend the bill to stop the state’s cap-and-trade program.

Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) proposed the amendment, which would have eliminated all of the bill language on drug sentences. He said the cap-and-trade program will drive up gas prices.

“Gasoline is not a luxury for most Californians,” Vidak told his colleagues. “It’s a necessity.”

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