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Mass. Lawmakers Consider Sentencing Overhaul

Lawmakers are considering a plan to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for some non-violent drug offenders in Massachusetts.

The Legislature's Joint Committee on the Judiciary heard testimony Tuesday on a bill sponsored by Gov. Deval Patrick that would end mandatory minimums sentences for drug offenses that do not involve guns or children.

The state's district attorneys say mandatory minimums prevent disparities in sentencing and help prosecutors settle cases outside court.

Proponents of the overhaul say it will cut costs, alleviate overcrowded prisons, and allow judges to tailor sentences for individuals.

The bill would also let inmates be moved to lower security levels, work release and community supervision when appropriate.

The same proposal increases parole eligibility for a person convicted of a third violent felony to two-thirds the maximum sentence instead of one half.

This program aired on September 20, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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