State Sen. Welch objects to shrinking drug-free zones

State Senator Jason Welch (R-Bristol, Plainville) voted against a bill that would shrink the drug free school zones in Connecticut, reported a press release from the legislator’s office. The proposed legislation would squeeze the safe area around schools, day care centers and housing projects down to 200 feet from 1,500 feet.

“Why are we protecting drug dealers and not our kids,” asked Welch in his press release

The proposal before the Judiciary Committee of which Sen. Welch is a member of, considered recommendations of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission regarding the drug safe zones and enhanced penalty for the sale of possession of drugs near the zone, said Welch.

“We should not be allowing drug dealers to sell drugs period. To weaken the underlying law that sets up a safety buffer goes against every notion we have in keeping kids safe. The drug free school zone law was passed for a reason,” said Welch in the press release.

Those supporting the change to the law believe that people living in the inner cities are being disproportionately charged with this offense, reported Welch’s release.

In Connecticut, the release explained, conviction for possessing or buying drugs within a drug-free zone automatically gets the offender a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two to three years. In the cities the zones cover most, if not the entire community.

“Cutting back this barrier is a step in the wrong direction,” added Welch, according to the press release. “If people are being arrested at a high rate for trying to sell drugs to our children near a school then that means the law is working.”

The final vote in the Judiciary Committee was 21-19 in favor of reducing the drug free zone. The bill still needs approval of the full general assembly. The legislative session ends May 7.