Minn. authorities welcome change on drug sentences

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota authorities and defense attorneys are welcoming the federal government’s plans to ease up on drug sentences.

They’re pointing out that Minnesota already has one of the country’s lowest incarceration rates because it’s been practicing what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been proposing for some 30 years.

Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections says the state reserves prison beds only for the most serious offenders. So low-level drug offenders end up with jail and probation instead of mandatory prison sentences. That’s made Minnesota second only to Maine for the lowest imprisonment rate in the country.

Former U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger praises Holder’s effort to reduce the federal prison population, though he’s concerned that Holder’s directive that federal prosecutors develop local policies will mean a lack of consistency.

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