What’s the difference in penalty for drug zone volition in a school zone?

by garyhall434 on September 25, 2012

  • Sharebar

(US criminal law and issues) In the world of crime, the worst offenses involve any illegal act involving a child. Hence, society considers the lowest thief to be someone who would “steal candy from a baby.” The corruption of innocence offends society. We don’t tolerate it. As much as we hate the consequences of drugs, we really, really, really hate it when drugs are around our children.

In an effort to protect our young ones, outraged state legislatures adopted, one after another, proximity laws for crimes involving drugs. Generally, these laws stipulate that if you commit a drug-crime within 1000 feet of a school property you will be penalized with an additional 2 to 15 years in prison on top of the sentence you receive for the crime itself. It all sounds good on paper. A legislator’s yes vote meant he or she was tough on crime, particularly drugs. If, however, you could see the inherent and discriminatory flaws in this well-intentioned system and voted no, then you are the kind of person who would steal candy from a baby. You are a monster!

In states like Massachusetts, the flaws and ineffectiveness of these laws are starting to take their toll on state coffers. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick says that under current law, 119 people are in prison for violating the 1000-feet rule costing the state over $31 million dollars per year. Many of these offenses took place in private residences after hours that just happened to be 1000 feet from a school.

There are already current laws that carry mandatory prison terms for crimes involving guns or children. In the report, “The Geography of Punishment,” Peter Wagner and co-authors Aleks Kajstura and William Goldberg found that school-zone laws subject urban residents to harsher penalties than residents of rural and suburban areas. The dense population of urban communities often put an entire population within a school zone.

The adjustment of the 1000-feet rule down to 100 feet wouldn’t diminish a judge’s ability to impose harsh penalties on repeat offenders, violent dealers, or any dealer who target’s children; a judge just wouldn’t have his or her hands tied with a mandatory sentence imposed on a non-violent, small-time drug user.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, like the law. It gives them a bargaining chip or a bat, depending on how you look at it, that encourages drug offenders to plead guilty to the original drug charge as long as the 2-15 year mandatory sentence is taken off the table. They argue this saves the government significant money in legal expenses. Conversely, it could be argued that it may convince an innocent defendant to plead guilty.

The dialogue on the future of these laws will probably continue into the future. It is a difficult debate because child safety is not something anyone wants to argue about.  If you have any questions regarding this subject check out ElliotSavitzLaw.com.



Gary Hall is a top auto accidents lawyer in Sherman Oaks serving clients all over California. His thoughtful and professional way of handling personal injury cases sets him apart from the others. He is an experienced car accident lawyer Sherman Oaks, who do not hesitate to handle any personal injury matters of any clients.

No related posts.

Previous post:

Next post: