Chicago prosecutor plans to lessen penalties for low-level drug offenses

By REUTERS
April 20, 2015 06:15

 
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The Cook County State's Attorney in Chicago plans to change how it handles low-level drug offenses, which will include the dismissal of future misdemeanor marijuana cases, a spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Misdemeanor marijuana cases for possession of small amounts of the drug, which totaled 15,000 cases last year, will be dismissed for those with less than three arrests or citations, said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Cook County includes the nation's third-largest city and many surrounding suburbs.

Alvarez plans to discuss the reforms at a news conference on Monday. The primary focus will be a "first of its kind" alternative prosecution program designed for repeat low-level drug offenders that will divert them out of the criminal justice system, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

A program will be designed for non-violent individuals charged with Class 4 felony possession of controlled substances and link repeat offenders with social service agencies for treatment, rather than pursuing criminal penalties, the prosecutor's office said.

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