Judges are beholden to federal regulations when it comes to certain types of drug charges brought in Connecticut. The regulations in question set down minimum sentences for various crimes, such as possession of controlled substances. This situation often necessitates plea-bargaining with the prosecution on behalf of the accused— if the accused hopes to avoid jail time.
The atmosphere of heavy penalties is beginning to dissipate. Connecticut was one of the strictest states in the country during the peak of the war on drugs. In 2015, CBS ran an article about a sweeping marijuana possession law reform which reduced penalties from jail time to a fine. It also reduced penalties associated with other drugs. Reform is currently in progress on many fronts, but drug crimes still retain some of the most severe punishments available.
The severity of drug crime sentencing is due mostly to federal regulations. However, there is currently a bill in congress that could conceivably change this strict policy. The full text of the bill is available on the Library of Congress site, and it contains several pieces of potential good news for those facing or convicted of drug charges:
- Limits set on the mandatory minimum sentences
- Safety valve expansion
- Modifications of juvenile punishments
- Changes to sentencing for prior drug felonies
Should this bill pass into law, the nation might see a drastic reduction of people imprisoned for drug-related crimes. It is worth noting that the bill is currently in committee in the Senate, where it awaits a decision. Keeping an eye on this and other potential state and federal laws should help understand the current trends and legal attitudes regarding drug crime.