Pubdate: Mon, 07 Feb 2011
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2011 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Jakki Melick


I AM thrilled that Governor Patrick is attempting to change the law 
that now mandates a minimum two-to 15-year sentence for dealing drugs 
within 1,000 feet of a school ("The too-long arm of the law," 
Editorial, Feb. 1). This well-intentioned law simply does not serve 
its original purpose.

Anyone dealing drugs in the city is almost always within 1,000 feet 
of a school; however, this is not true in suburban or rural areas. 
So, a city dweller selling a small amount of marijuana to another 
adult in his or her own home would be subject to prosecution, while 
someone in a suburban or rural area would not.

Several years ago, I was a juror when a young father was on trial for 
violating this law. In the small Dorchester courthouse, I saw this 
man zipping his small children into their jackets, tying their little 
hats under their chins, and hugging them. I saw how the children 
looked at him, and I thought about what it would mean to take him 
away from them for two years.

Even if he were guilty, I did not want that to happen. But the 
evidence didn't hold up, and the judge found him not guilty.

After the trial, the judge came to speak with us. I questioned the 
law, and the judge said that only a small percentage of cases brought 
under this law have anything to do with children.

I never expected that any politician would risk appearing soft on 
drugs by changing this law. I hope Governor Patrick is successful in doing so.

Jakki Melick

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