07 December 2005

Drug Free Zones in New Jersey Don't Work

The main effect of drug free zones is to create racial disparities in drug sentencing.

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.

From the Sentencing Law and Policy Blog.

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