Pubdate: Wed, 23 Apr 2003
Source: Style Weekly (VA)
Copyright: 2003 Style Weekly Inc.
Author: Roy B. Scherer


I'm afraid that the article on HB2181, the Exile law reform (Street Talk, 
March 26) was more than a bit misleading. Rather than "weaken" the law, and 
send it "teetering," the bill actually concentrates the penalties on the 
original target: dangerous behavior.

"Possession" under the law does not mean "on your person"; it applies to 
anything, anywhere, which is "subject to his dominion and control."

Current law sets exactly the same penalties for peaceful users as for the 
most dangerous, heavily armed pusher. A judge has no discretion once a case 
is brought; he must give exactly the same five-year penalty to a student 
who's been caught with one dose of cocaine, and has an antique hunting 
shotgun in his attic, as to the thug who's been wholesaling heroin and 
crack for years while carrying an arsenal and threatening to use it. The 
reform bill is a significant step toward justice.

Roy B. Scherer

Legislative Analyst

Virginians Against Drug Violence
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