Lavielle opposes bill that would reduce drug-free zones around schools

State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-1432) has voiced strenuous opposition to a proposal to eliminate drug-free zones surrounding school property and reduces all felony drug possession charges to a misdemeanor.
The legislation, governor’s bill SB 952, is called the Second Chance Society. It moved forward April 10 after a 22-20 vote in the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.

According to a press release from Lavielle’s office, the bill would make the possession of any quantity of a narcotic or controlled substance a misdemeanor offense. It also shrinks the size of current drug-free school zones, for the purposes of possession, from 1,500 feet around school property to include only the school property itself.
“Under this proposal, anyone can get away with a slap on the wrist for possessing unlimited amounts of drugs like heroin, cocaine, or marijuana within sight of a school as long as it happens on the opposite side of the street,” she said.
In his budget address to the General Assembly in February, Gov. Dannel Malloy spoke at length about a “Second Chance Society” and its role in stimulating the state’s economy by giving “more people a chance at finding gainful employment” and emphasizing reform over punishment.
“Connecticut is proving that smart criminal justice reforms can lead to safer communities, fewer victims, and more opportunity for success,” Malloy said. “The bill I submit to you today offers a second chance to non-violent offenders:

  • It reduces penalties for simple drug possession to a misdemeanor.

  • It unties the hands of our judges by eliminating mandatory minimums.

  • It streamlines our pardon and paroles process for non-violent offenders.

  • And it offers ex-offenders new opportunities in finding both a job, and a home.

“These ideas are part of a growing national conversation on how to end a generational cycle of poverty, addiction, and crime,” he added.
Lavielle said because the bill involves schools, it may be referred to the legislature’s Education Committee, where she is the House Ranking Member.
“One of our highest priorities on the committee is keeping children safe at school,” she said. “How does making it easier for people to possess and use drugs in close proximity to children do that? How is it possible to argue that this proposal makes sense? We must do everything possible to defeat it.”