Thursday, March 23, 2006

News flash: Kids can buy dope despite 'drug-free zones'

A significant but seldom-discussed aspect of the Tulia cases covered well in Nate Blakeslee's book was the frequent "enhancement" of minor criminal charges to more serious levels, often requiring decades-long sentences, because the alleged transaction occurred near a school or in some other "drug free zone."

Using a methodology first developed by the New Jersey Sentencing Commission, the Justice Policy Institute today
released a report analyzing sentencing data on the subject from four states. Their finding: Drug free zones failed to limit youths' access to drugs and worsened racial disparities in prison. Here's the full report (pdf).

Thanks to JPI's Jason Zeidenberg for the head up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two Important Points:

If you read that study, be sure to focus on when the law was applied. It was used against defendants not in school, after school hours, and defendants that weren't selling to kids. I don't know about you but a prosecutor has alot of say in determining that enhancement especially when it's a big stretch like that.

Second. Meth hasn't caught up with these provisions yet so it may be premature to say the rural areas aren't affected the same way as urban areas. We Americans usually don't discriminate so Bubba is just as likely to be enhanced for meth just as Cheesecake is for crack.

Here is my problem. We're going to narrow the scope becasue the enhancement wasn't used properly or better it was abused. So narrowing it will eliminate the "abuse" of the law not the intended purpose of the law. Makes perfect sense.