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NC Senate Passes First Step Act, Allowing Flexibility In Sentencing For Non-Violent Offenses

prison bars
Emiliano Bar
North Carolina's First Step Act is modeled after federal legislation by the same name.

The North Carolina Senate passed the First Step Act on Tuesday, legislation that would allow judges flexibility in mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug-related offenses.

State Sen. Danny Britt, a co-sponsor of the legislation, said this was needed because "mandatory minimums for drug-related offenses sometimes turn into de facto life sentences."

The act, which is modeled on federal legislation of the same name passed last year, permits a judge to reduce the sentence of someone convicted of a drug offense. It also allows those currently serving prison sentences for a drug-related offense to file a "Motion for Appropriate Relief" to reduce their sentence.

"The First Step Act rests on the premise that non-violent offenders can overcome addiction and turn their lives around -- that there is hope after incarceration," Britt said.