South Dakota Governor Proposes Mandatory Jail Time

South Dakota Governor Proposes Mandatory Jail Time
Posted by FoM on February 27, 1999 at 08:12:50 PT

Pierre, SD: Gov. William Janklowe has introduced legislation that would impose mandatory jail sentences for all marijuana offenders, including children. 
   NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. criticized the proposal. "Marijuana smokers work hard, raise families, and contribute to their communities," he said. "They are not part of the crime problem and we should not treat them like criminals. This proposal would needlessly wreck the lives, careers, and families of thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens who smoke marijuana."   Stroup continued, "In addition, there is no evidence that making the possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by mandatory jail time will do anything to reduce use, particularly among adolescents." He noted that the only federal study ever to compare marijuana use patterns among decriminalized states and those that still arrest marijuana smokers determined that, "Decriminalization has had virtually no effect on either marijuana use or on related attitudes about marijuana use among young people."   He concluded, "Rather than imposing harsh and mandatory jail sentences for minor marijuana offenders, we should develop a policy that distinguishes between use and abuse, and which reflects the importance we have always attached in this country to the right of the individual to be free from the overreaching power of the state."   Senate Bill 210 states that any individual convicted of a marijuana violation shall serve ten days in jail. Janklowe's initial proposal mandated a 30 day sentence for all offenders, but the Senate Affairs Committee amended the measure before passing it 5 to 3 last week. The Senate approved it days later and the bill now awaits action by the House.   For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML   (202) 483-5500 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation   (202) 483-8751.
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