25 Jul 2005

Tough drug laws likely to be amended in American Samoa

3:36 pm on 25 July 2005

Tough drug laws in American Samoa are likely to be amended in order to give first time offenders a second chance.

Under current laws, first time offenders face the same mandatory sentence of between five to ten years in prison and up to a 10,000 U.S. dollar fine, as do dealers or those possessing large amounts of marijuana.

The chief justice, Michael Kruse, has raised concerns about this because the courts must impose a prison sentence for first time offenders, and are not allowed to impose parole, probation or suspended sentences.

Those possibilities were eliminated in 1998.

Our correspondent, Fili Sagapolutele, says there's now amendments being planned to deal more leniently with first time offenders.

"That's the intention that the court is looking at. They wanted to at least give the first time offenders some opportunities, especially for some opportunity for rehabilitation."

The Attorney General's office is expected to draft the amendments and present them to the current session of the fono.