“One of our highest priorities on the Committee is keeping children safe at school,” said Rep. Lavielle. “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.”
Report by Paula Antolini
April 14, 2015 11:55PM EDT
CT State Rep. Lavielle Opposes Bill Weakening Drug-Free School Zones
By Victoria Verderame
HARTFORD – April 14, 2015 – State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143), Ranking Member of the Education Committee, sharply criticized a proposal to eliminate drug-free school zones surrounding school property for anyone who possesses drugs and reduces all felony drug possession charges to a misdemeanor.
The legislation, governor’s bill SB 952, was moved forward by the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee around 1:00 am on Friday morning, April 10, in the dead of night, with a 22-20 vote. It 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 1500 feet around school property to include only the school property itself.
Rep. Lavielle, who helped defeat a 2014 proposal to shrink drug-free school zones in the Education Committee, said, “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.”
Proponents of the bill claim that its intent is to give drug offenders a second chance at turning their lives around by making drug possession a simple misdemeanor.
In his public hearing testimony on the bill, Connecticut’s Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane disputed the notion that those arrested for first-time drug possession are serving time in prison. Kane testified that the reality is persons who commit criminal acts, including possession of illicit drugs, are given multiple opportunities, some as the result of diversionary programs and some as a result of the careful consideration of the prosecutor, to avoid criminal convictions.
Because it involves schools, the bill may be referred to the legislature’s Education Committee, where Rep. Lavielle is the House Ranking Member. “One of our highest priorities on the Committee is keeping children safe at school,” said Rep. Lavielle. “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.”
State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143)
Serving Norwalk, Westport, Wilton
Connecticut House Republican Office
L.O.B. Room 4200
Hartford, CT 06106
800-842-1423 (toll-free in CT)