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March 24, 2006

Important drug-free zone report

The Justice Policy Institute has released an important new report, entitled "Disparity by Design: How drug-free zone laws impact racial disparity — and fail to protect youth," which contends that drug-free zones fail to reduce drug sales and aggravate racial disparities in sentencing.  The full report can be accessed at this link, and the Drug Policy Alliance here has a brief summary of its contents.  The report has appropriately generated media coverage such as this AP article and this USA Today article.  Here is a snippet from the report's conclusion:

A substantial body of evidence from research and policy studies indicates that drug-free zone laws, as they are typically configured, are not effective in reducing the sale or use of drugs, or in protecting school children — and the role these laws play to increase unwarranted racial disparity is well documented.  The case studies detailed in this report demonstrate that policymakers in jurisdictions from coast to coast are moving to reform or replace drug-free zone laws with more effective measures.

March 24, 2006 at 01:03 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Doug,

Just anecdotally, I can tell you that the drug-free school zones in NYC don't really work in terms of sentencing. If you are caught selling drugs 1,000 ft or less from a school (measured from the perimeter of its property), then you are charged with a B-felony, with minimum sentence, if you're a repeat offender (and most are), of 4.5 - 9 years. However, you are usually simultaneously charged with intent to sell, another B-felony, with the same sentence. So unless you are a first-time drug seller, the extra indictment & conviction is meaningless, since the sentences are invariably run concurrently. So there's really no deterrent factor in the drug-free zone.

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