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December 7, 2005

NJ Commission releases major report on drug-free zones

As previewed here last week, the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing today released an important report with powerful recommendations urging reforms to the state's drug sentencing laws and particular its laws creating "drug-free zones."  The full report can be accessed here, and below are excerpts from a press release about the report (which includes portions of the report's executive summary):

New Jersey's "Drug Free Zone" laws are not as effective as they could be in protecting children and others from the dangers of the illegal drug trade, according to a 40-page report issued today by the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing. In addition, minorities are far more likely to be arrested and convicted under these laws and therefore sentenced to longer terms of imprisonment than their white suburban and rural counterparts.....

  • The "urban effect" of the drug free zone laws significantly increases the likelihood that a drug distribution offense will occur within a drug free school zone in urban areas; minorities, who currently comprise a greater proportion of urban populations than rural and suburban populations, are therefore far more likely to be charged with a drug free zone offense and subjected to harsher punishment upon conviction.

  • The end result of this cumulative "urban effect" of the drug free zone laws is that nearly every offender (96%) convicted and incarcerated for a drug free zone offense in New Jersey is either Black or Hispanic.

  • The "urban effect" greatly undermines the school zone law's effectiveness in protecting school children: the enormous, unbroken swaths created by the overlapping zones have in fact diluted the special protection of schools that the law was specifically intended to facilitate.

December 7, 2005 at 05:09 PM | Permalink


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Hi, my name is charlie. I am aan addict, and so by being an addict of course I went on to do what addicts do. And that is either to steal or sell drugs etc.. And for that reason I'm now facing a legal issue. I was set up and caught by the park and now I'm being charged with disturbiting at the park. Which they are saying that it's a drug free zone. Now my question is, if there is no sign posted that says drug free zone can it still be used against me? Would that be in the drug free zone policy?

Posted by: Charles Colon | Sep 9, 2010 10:55:13 AM

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