Bill Scaling Back Drug-Free School Zones Clears Judiciary Committee

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A bill sharply scaling back drug-free school zones narrowly cleared the legislature\’s judiciary committee on Wednesday.

Under current law, those convicted of selling drugs within 1,500-feet of a school, daycare center or public housing development face an enhanced penalty. Critics say the policy unfairly targets residents of densely populated urban areas, some of which are completely within the school zone.

\”It\’s good public policy,\’\’ said Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven. He notes there is already an enhanced penalty for selling drugs to minors.

Senate Bill 259 would reduce the size of the drug-free zones to within 200-feet of school property, a guideline endorsed last year by the Connecticut Sentencing Commission.

Critics note the bill has come up many times in the past and they expressed concern about the message it would send, particularly to young people.

\”This legislature to my great dismay decriminalized marijuana,\’\’ said Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, \”and I\’m struggling once again with the thought we truly are sending a message by way of this action that…is perceived as further lessening of the penalty for drug-dealing….I don\’t believe this is the way to go.\”

The judiciary committee approved the bill by a vote of 21 to 19. The measure now heads to the state Senate for consideration.


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