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Connects Against Crime: Sentencing Reform

Updated: Thursday, January 23 2014, 10:45 PM CST
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Mysti Crane and Kayla Crabtree share a similar experience.

Both are now in their late twenties, both are mothers, and both -- are convicted drug felons

"They didn't offer help, they just threw me in prison with the big dogs at 17," says Mysti.
 
Kayla first went in on meth charges for a year.
 
"I didn't have any treatment and caught another charge and went back," she said. "I got almost three years."
 
Mysti was sentenced to 7 years for PCP, but was out on parole after 3.
 
"I ran right back to the drugs and I violated my parole, and went back to prison," Mysti said.
 
Though they are clean now thanks to treatment, those felony charges are making it tough to get back on track.
 
"It's hard because I've applied many places, but because of my charge, they'll say no," Kayla said.
 
John Zimmerman, who has been a vocal advocate in Iowa City for sentence reform, says these cases show something just isn't working.
 
"It doesn't seem appropriate, even with harder drugs, to ruin someone's life forever," Zimmerman said.
 
Zimmerman is a County Attorney candidate running on that very platform.
 
"We're treating what's often a mental health issue as a criminal issue," he said.
 
Attorney General Eric Holder says the Smarter Sentencing Act would be a step in the right direction.

In a statement released Thursday, Holder says the law would make our criminal justice system not only fairer, but more efficient. The law would lower mandatory minimum sentences allowing judges to use more discretion.

The act, which was introduced by Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mike Lee, is getting support from both sides of the aisle. While it awaits further support in Washington, Fonda Frazier with Mecca drug treatment services says they're on board.
 
"People who suffer from substance abuse disorders should be funneled into treatment instead of prison," Frazier said.
 
Mysti and Kayla say it could prevent others from getting trapped in the revolving door.
 
"I'm not minimizing what I did at all, but I don't feel like I got the right treatment or help." Kayla said.
 
This smarter sentencing act will also allow people convicted under outdated laws to petition for sentence reductions. We'll keep you updated as the bill moves through Washington.Connects Against Crime: Sentencing Reform


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