Pubdate: Wed, 25 Dec 2013
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2013 The Hartford Courant
Author: Sam Tracy


Letter to the editor

I was happy to read that the Connecticut Sentencing Commission 
unanimously recommended shrinking drug-free zones from 1,500 to 200 
feet from public school property [Dec. 20, Page 1, "Drug-Free School 
Zones Could Shrink"].

When I was student body president at UConn, I saw the impact of our 
current laws first-hand. Since E.O. Smith High School is right next 
to campus, its drug-free zone includes many UConn dorms and 
apartments. If caught with drugs, the more than 2,700 students living 
in the zone were at risk of astronomically higher penalties than 
their peers living right across the street.

Of course, this pales in comparison to the havoc these zones have 
wrought in Connecticut's cities. New Haven, which is almost one huge 
school zone, has been cited in national studies as an example of 
drug-free zones gone wrong. This not only leads to institutionalized 
racism in our criminal justice system, it defeats the entire purpose 
of the law: If everywhere is a school zone, nowhere is, as drug 
dealers have no incentive to avoid selling near school property.

I sincerely hope the General Assembly takes the commission's advice 
in the 2014 legislative session and finally reforms this destructive policy.

Sam Tracy, South Windsor

The writer, who graduated from UConn last May, is chairman of the 
board of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a national organization.
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