Mandatory Minimums Up For Debate On Beacon Hill

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There’s a push on Beacon Hill to reform or repeal mandatory minimum sentences, especially for drug offenders. Several pending bills address the issue. One from Gov. Deval Patrick would repeal mandatory minimums for drug crimes that don’t involve violence, guns or children.

Proponents for change say softer sentences could save the state millions of dollars and allow hundreds of people a chance at rehabilitation. But opponents, who include the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, say the mandatory minimums promote truth in sentencing and predictable sentences.

Two people on opposite sides joined Morning Edition to talk about the issue. Barbara Dougan is the Massachusetts director of the group Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Sam Sutter is Bristol County district attorney and president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.