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Will a bill shrinking drug-free zones get a debate in an election year?

HARTFORD, Conn. – It’s an issue that doesn’t impact a majority of state lawmakers, which makes a bill that shrinks drug-free school zones from 1,500 to 200 feet, a tough sell.

That’s especially true in an election year when lawmakers running for re-election don’t want to be painted by their opponents as soft on crime. But proponents like Laresse Harvey remain optimistic.

Harvey has been advocating for similar legislation for a decade because she believes the law is racially biased in its implementation. It also doesn’t differentiate between possession and intent to sell, she said Wednesday during the Judiciary Committee’s public hearing on the bill.

The current law allowing an enhanced penalty for selling drugs near a school dates back to 1987. That year, Connecticut passed one of the harshest drug-free zone laws in the nation, establishing a three-year mandatory minimum sentence for a drug offense within 1,000 feet of a school. The law was later expanded to 1,500 feet and now includes public housing complexes and day care centers.

The law was intended to protect children from drugs, but the result has been “a law that punishes African American and Latino offenders more severely than white offenders for exactly the same crimes while offering no protection at all to children in urban areas,” ACLU Attorney David McGuire said in written testimony.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.

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3 responses to “Will a bill shrinking drug-free zones get a debate in an election year?”

  1. EveT

    How can they say it offers “no protection at all to children in urban areas”? Keeping drugs away from kids seems like the exact intent of the law.

  2. I don’t think this will pass – how else would the useless DA’s bargain with criminals to get information? This law is just a ruse and usually the first charge tossed out when reducing a criminals time to suit the need of the DA.
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    It has squat to do with protecting the kids.
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    Kinda like the seatbelt law – it is a farce and is used to pull over cars and search inside based on suspicion, a hunch, a gut feeling…

  3. EveT: I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but I think that the attorney said that the law provided “no protection at all to children in urban areas” because there is no child in any urban area who has ever been protected in any meaningful way by this vicious and silly law.

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