Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences Eliminated in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A new law eliminating mandatory minimum drug sentences in Rhode Island has taken effect without the governor’s signature.

Similar measures had been vetoed in past years by Gov. Donald L. “Don” Carcieri, but supporters say they compromised on this year’s legislation by removing a provision that placed a cap on the maximum sentence a judge could give for drug possession crimes.

The new law, which took effect this month, leaves the sentence to the judge’s discretion.

Under the old law, anyone caught manufacturing, possessing or dealing up to one kilogram of heroin or cocaine, or up to five kilograms of marijuana, could face a minimum 10-year sentence.

Despite that, many drug offenders in Rhode Island actually receive and serve far shorter sentences.


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