31 May 2006

Drug Free Zone Unintended Consequences

Utah has joined the ranks of states where drug free zone laws have proved unfair and problematic. Perhaps most ironically, they encourage cops to set up string operations, dangerous events that can lead to gunfire and the like, near the schools and churches the legislature sought to keep free from that kind of danger, in pursuit of higher penalties.

[P]olice have deliberately set up undercover buys in church or school parking lots, or initiated stops in front of a parking lot to trigger the more serious charge, [wrote] Michael Sibbits, former chairman of the Board of Pardons and Parole.

Also, notably, few of the cases in drug free zones (a first degree felony offense) involve children:

Christine Mitchell, deputy director of the Utah Department of Corrections, looked at 45 first-degree felony cases over a 12-month period. In only three cases were children present when the offense occurred.

Drug free zones sound good in theory, but they simply do not work in practice.

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