Significant criminal justice reform measures were passed by the legislature this year. Senate File 445 will bring the penalties for crack cocaine offenses more in line with powder cocaine penalties. The bill will also give the courts more discretion in sentencing for some crimes.

The bill lowers the crack-powder discrepancy that exists in current law where someone caught with as much as 10 times as much cocaine as crack receives the same penalty, even though pharmacologically the drugs are the same. While the discrepancy is not entirely erased under the changes, the ratio is lowered to 1:2.5.

The courts are also given more discretion in sentencing for certain crimes, such as some drug offenses. They are now also allowed to reconsider sentences for crimes that require a prison sentence to determine if someone should be released.

The amended bill that includes these criminal justice reforms passed both the House and Senate on unanimous votes and is headed to the Governor.