Minneapolis City Pages May 4, 2016 : Page 5

BLOTTER THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE here are too many Americans going to prison. Liberals think the system is unfairly punitive and inherently racist, with the school-to-prison pipeline doing everything it can to destroy families. Conservatives say the whole thing just costs too damn much. The trend of lockin’ ’em up and throwin’ away the key is slowly coming to an end. Even in Minnesota, which imprisons its people at the second-lowest rate in the country, behind only Maine. Still, with 289 out of every 100,000 people in the joint, Minnesota’s incarceration rate would rank us 37th among countries world-wide. Just behind Iran. According to the Star Tribune, lawmakers have reached a tentative deal that would Minnesota is prepared to ease back on sentencing — except, weirdly, on weed T drastically reform sentences for drug crimes. As it stands, anyone caught with 10 grams of methamphetamine or cocaine is facing about seven years in the slammer. Under the new law, the threshold would be 17 grams (about half an ounce), and the sentencing guideline would be cut to more like five years. More important, people with up to three grams would face four years of probation instead of four years in prison, as it’s cur-rently structured. This is good! Here’s what’s bad: While cops and prosecutors are cool with lowering the penalties on dealers and users of hard drugs, they’re rolling out harsher punishments for the most common drug of all: pot. Though Minnesota has approved it (sort of) for medicinal use — and it’s perfectly In Minneapolis, you’re a criminal. In Denver, you’re an entrepreneur. AP legal in four states and soon the whole of Canada — Minnesota is going backward. Under the terms sketched out by the Strib, the amount of marijuana necessary to trigger a 65-month sentence would drop from 110 pounds to 55 pounds. Likewise, the amount of weed needed to trigger a second-degree possession charge would also be cut in half. Here, at least, the reforms would give offenders four years of probation instead of four years in prison. Admittedly, 55 pounds of marijuana is a lot of weed. For an individual user, it’s enough to easily get you through the next 40 times Willie Nelson or Snoop Dogg crash on your couch for the weekend. But remember, it’s 2016. If you had 100 pounds of pot to get rid of and lived in, say, Denver, you’re not a felon. You’re an entrepreneur. —MIKE MULLEN MAY 4–10, 2016   CITYPAGES.COM   5

Brain Injury Association Of Minnesota

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