Colorado lawmakers are hoping to revise how drug offences are sentenced under state law in an effort to reduce the rate of recidivism among people convicted of drug crimes as well as help drug users get clean.

The proposed bill only applies towards drug offenses and it would create incentives for drug offenders to get treatment instead of being sent to prison. The bill would create new sentencing requirements for drug crimes and allows judges more discretion when deciding to send a drug user to rehab instead of prison.

The bill still has harsh penalties for offenders convicted of selling illegal drugs but it changes how individuals charged with drug possession are sentenced. The new sentencing scheme would allow drug users convicted of a drug crime to get treatment and have an incentive to get clean. Offenders who complete treatment and probation can have their conviction changed to a misdemeanor on their criminal record.

Having a felony drug charge changed to a misdemeanor could significantly impact many individuals convicted of drug crimes in Colorado. Drug crimes are considered very serious offenses and having a felony drug crime conviction on your criminal record can impact the rest of a person's life. However, the bill would help offenders who complete treatment by having their felony conviction changed to a misdemeanor offense. Changing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor can help individuals find housing and employment much easier and hopefully create an easier transition back into society.

The proposed bill is supported by many politicians, prosecutors and defense attorneys in Colorado because it is trying to help drug users become a part of society again instead of spending time in and out of prison for minor drug possession offenses. Supporters of the bill are hoping that it will be passed so they can help drug users become a part of society again as well as reduce the number of people being sentenced to prison in Colorado.

Source: CBS Denver, "Colorado Lawmakers Want Overhaul Sentencing For Drug Offenses," April 3, 2013