Petition Closed

NON-VIOLENT drug offenders should not be sentenced twice by the DFZ zone enhancements essentially making non-violent drug offenders serve more time than child molesters, rapists, aggravated assaults, robberies, etc

Every year thousands of men and women are imprisoned on low level possession drug charges. The law requires that if you possess drugs within 1,000 feet of a "drug free zone" that the penalty is enhanced to the next level, ie. state jail to 3rd degree, 3rd degree to 2nd degree etc.
First of all, this law is flawed because it includes locations like parks, schools, and playgrounds BUT if you read the law it does not include colleges. The reasoning for this is that the legislators that created the law do not want their college students caught with a drug in college. Secondly, I would imagine everywhere is a "drug free zone" correct? The purpose is to deter drug dealers from selling drugs to children. Drug dealers have plenty of adults to sell to; they are not hanging at the parks selling to children like it shows on TV. Also, if one gets caught with a drug while driving by a specified "drug free zone" they will be charged with the penalty of a DFZ, if you live two blocks from a "drug free zone" and get caught with drugs you are charged with a DFZ. My point is that the intention of the law is not how it is being used. IF someone was at a school or a park selling drugs then, YES, by all means, punish them to the fullest extent.
The results of the DFZ law has been this: fathers (and mothers too) are taken away from their children for years. One rule of the DFZ law is that they must serve 5 years flat time or their entire sentence whichever is longer. Flat time means no parole. That means that child molesters, sexual assault cases, and other aggravated offenders are getting out on parole while a person who gets caught with a small amount of drugs in a DFZ is serving more time. These parents are in prison not taking care of their children. Not contributing a dime to society.
There are many others who disagree with this law including police, lawyers, and judges. This law is for prosecutors to get as many "notches" in their belt as possible.  "The war on drugs has unequivocally failed to meet every one of its stated goals. We have bravely fought the war on drugs for more than 40 years – arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning at ever-increasing levels. We have spent well over a trillion dollars and made more than 39 million arrests of nonviolent drug users" http://www.leap.cc/for-law-enforcement/corrections/
"Federal and state drug-free zone statutes have withstood challenges framed on
constitutional grounds.8 Appellate courts have shown little appetite for restricting
the reach of these laws, and have given great deference to legislatures and to law enforcement in reviewing the statutes’ construction and application. Legal challenges to drug-free zone statutes have raised four basic arguments:
• First, defendants have argued that the statutes violate the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy, penalizing them both for committing a drug offense, and for committing the same offense in a prohibited zone.
• Second, defendants have argued that the statutes violate the constitutional
requirement of due process by holding them criminally liable for unintentional
presence in a prohibited zone.

• Third, defendants have argued that the statutes fail to meet the constitutional standard of equal justice because they subject individuals, certain classes of individuals, or whole communities to harsher punishment than others for similar conduct. • Fourth, defendants have argued that particular applications of the statutes exceed the laws’ intent to protect children from drug activity." http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/SchoolZonesReport06.pdf

Other states have already taken steps: http://www.famm.org/newsandinformation/PressReleases/NewJerseyRollsBackDrugFreeZoneLaw.aspx

NON-VIOLENT drug offenders should not be sentenced twice by the DFZ zone enhancements essentially making non-violent drug offenders serve more time than child molesters, rapists, aggravated assaults, robberies, etc.!!

Letter to
Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence
ELIMINATE DRUG FREE ZONE ENHANCEMENTS