Pubdate: Fri, 13 Sep 2002
Source: World, The (VT)
Copyright: 2002 The World
Author: Steve Swayne



On August 19, 2002, Jim Douglas announced get-tough measures on public 
safety and crime. "I will empower parents and communities with the tools 
they need to protect our children from drug pushers. I will send to the 
Legislature my proposal for a 'Megan's Law' for drug dealers. ... Under my 
'Megan's Law' proposal, families will be notified when a convicted drug 
dealer enters their community to live."

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, state courts in 1998 made 
195,183 convictions for drug trafficking, 119,443 for drug possession, and 
29,693 for all types of sexual assault. That means for every person 
convicted of sexual assault, at least six and as many as ten people were 
convicted of crimes that would flag them under Douglas's proposal. 
Considering that the number of "Megan's Law" sexual assault cases is a 
fraction of the number above, Douglas's proposal could report 20 to 50 
times as many persons as would any "Megan's Law" for sexual assault crimes.

Douglas says his programs "can be accomplished by reprioritizing and 
converting resources and funds to more effective uses." He is our state 
treasurer; let him offer his projected reallocations now. Until he does, I 
conclude that Douglas's proposal is economically unsound and poorly 
conceived. It says nothing about recidivism rates of drug dealers. Our law 
enforcement officials have better ways to use their already overextended 
resources. This feel-good proposal will consume valuable legislative time 
and money.

Our next governor needs to think more clearly than this.

- -Steve Swayne

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