The New Jersey Senate has approved a bill that gives judges more discretion in sentencing nonviolent drug offenders.

The measure, approved by a vote of 24-11, revises the drug-free school zone law, which calls for mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug crimes committed within 1,000 feet of a school.

Reform advocates say the existing law unfairly targets city residents and fills prisons with nonviolent offenders. The amended bill heads back to the Assembly, which easily passed a similar version. Gov. Corzine has indicated he will sign it.

Roseanne Scotti, director of the N.J. Drug Policy Alliance, called yesterday's vote "a powerful repudiation of New Jersey's failed sentencing policies."    

- AP