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House committee passes drug reform act

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First- and second-time drug offenders may be looking at consequences of drug treatment rather than time spent in Utah's prisons.

SB22, the Drug Offender Reform Act, sponsored by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, passed unanimously out of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday. Buttars told lawmakers it would be a step toward "being smart on crime" instead of the old adage of being tough on crime.

DORA would potentially vacate 2,000 prison beds and create 1,600 new drug treatment slots for drug offenders. Buttars said this would permit the state to incarcerate violent sex offenders and other criminals deemed more dangerous to society.

The bill, which is being called "cost-effective" and "more humane," would require $6 million to implement.