Monday, March 27, 2006

Drug Free Zones Don't Work & Are Not Fair!

The Justice Policy Institute, a "nonprofit research and public policy organization dedicated to ending society’s reliance on incarceration", has released a report entitled "Disparity by Design: How drug-free zone laws impact racial disparity – and fail to protect youth” that shows these laws on creating "drug free zones" aren't effective nor are they fair. These laws are especially unfair to persons of color! While many laws involved a thousand feet radius around schools or housing authorities, Alabama has stretched it to a ridiculous three miles radiating out from schools, including colleges, plus housing authorities where enhancements of five years each, that I believe must be served consecutively rather than concurrently, apply. Of course even for a first offense of sale that is a class B Felony making a two year sentence applicable without any enhancements via priors. So you are looking at a minimum twelve years. See Code of Alabama 13A-12-250 and 270 for the details but often with my clients both seemed to apply.

The Birmingham News Carla Crowder covered the report pointing out that these areas are twenty-seven miles! Tip of the Tam to Wheeler at Alablawg! Ms. Crowder writes
University of Alabama research has found that teen drug use has increased since the law passed. In 1988, about 15 percent of boys and 10 percent of girls reported having used drugs, according to the most recent Alabama Adolescent Survey available. By 2001, 32 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls said they had used illegal drugs.

Given the failed "War on Drugs", tackled rather recently via an impressive work by Hypatia at Glenn Greewald's Unclaimed Territory and even Walter Cronkite, it would seem that Progressive reforms might be somewhat well received, even in Alabama. The Prison-Industrial Complex is certainly an issue for Alabama and to continue to spend so much and face environmental consequences and soceital chaos seems like poor policy. Peace ... or War!