Pubdate: Wed, 21 Feb 2001
Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Copyright: 2001 Denver Publishing Co.
Contact:  400 W. Colfax, Denver, CO 80204
Author: Brad Pierson


This past year in politics, the importance of each and every vote has been
brought to light again and again. This was true not only last Nov. 7, but on
Feb. 14 as well. On that day, the state Senate Judiciary Committee killed
Senate Bill 177, which would have removed mandatory minimum sentences for
possession and distribution of certain controlled substances, including
marijuana. The bill lost by just one vote.

That one vote means that nonviolent offenders will continue to be
incarcerated at great length at great cost to Colorado taxpayers. What is
more, it means that individuals caught growing, using or selling marijuana
will continue to take up the prison space that could be better used to hold
violent criminals who really threaten society.

Most Coloradans will never be convicted of a crime or face a mandatory
sentence. This does not mean that they should not think about and oppose
mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenses. It is their money that keeps
overcrowded prisons operational and it is their families at risk from
violent offenders let out on parole to make more room for those who must
serve time for marijuana cultivation.

I hope this one letter will change the one vote that may keep another SB 177
alive next year.

Brad Pierson
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