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Measure strips jail time for some minor offenses

HELENA — A measure to strip jail time for some first-time misdemeanor offenders, leaving just fines in place, easily cleared the Montana Senate on Friday despite opposition from county attorneys.

The proposal would mean that the state would no longer have to provide public defenders for those charged with the crimes. Backers argue it would save money, ease crowding in jails and free up busy public defenders.

The Senate unanimously approved the measure 47-0. It faces another set of hearings in the House.

The list of offenses in the bill includes theft less than $1,500, writing bad checks less t...


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