If you’ve ever read police blotters, then you know that they’re kind of goofy, reinforce the authority of police officers, and make fun of defendants. In one police blotter, the writer describes a drug deal between two men on a street corner. Three police officers are watching as one man pulls some money from his pocket and the other man gives him a container of crack. The two men spot the police and then walk away like nothing happened. The police catch up with the men when:
He was arrested for selling drugs. In addition, he managed to do it right in front of a church thereby earning himself a bonus charge of selling within 1,000 feet of a house of worship. An amazing two-for-one of self-destruction. He was taken to jail.
This is why defense attorneys exist. Because sometimes the law doesn’t work fairly.
Drug Deals and No Drug Zones
People talk about structural racism. Let’s talk a little about how it works. No one wants to see school children on drugs, and we certainly want to hold those who sell drugs to school children accountable for their crimes in perhaps a harsher way than your typical drug dealer. But that’s not what we’re doing. Instead, we set up “drug-free” zones within so much distance of a church or school.
There are three feet in a yard. 1000 feet from a house of worship is literally three football fields away or a block in any direction. Since there are multiple people of many different religions in any given area, and you have schools scattered about the area as well, you have large swaths of land, all in the city, that overlap with one another. Oh yes. You also qualify for enhanced penalties if you’re within 1000 feet of a convenience store. In other words, you can find yourself with a couple of pieces of pavement on which to conduct a drug deal that would not qualify you for enhanced penalties. Take out your yardstick and figure it out for yourself.
Structural Racism and Anti-Drug Zoning
The inner city and Black community has been victimized by crack and heroin addiction. Many of the laws were placed on the books to protect these communities. But because these laws target black communities which tend to be more densely packed population-wise than the suburbs or rural areas, you have laws that by default target Black neighborhoods more often than they do white neighborhoods.
What’s the Solution?
Because the city is more densely packed and the zones for the anti-drug laws are greater than three football fields in any direction, there is almost nowhere in the city that you can sell drugs and just be charged with selling drugs. Yes, white people can also be charged under these laws and are, but population-wise, more inner-city defendants turn out to be black than white. So this is a clear example of structural racism.
The solution would be to remove the zoning ordinances because they make no sense and destroy the communities that they are meant to protect.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with dealing drugs in a drug-free zone, you could face stiffer penalties. Call the West Palm Beach criminal lawyers at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to discuss your options.