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Second Chance Society bill heads to Senate

In the state of Connecticut, the penalties for being convicted of possession of drugs in a school zone are currently harsher than those if you are not in a school zone, but this could soon be changing. The Second Chancy Society legislation, which is backed by Gov. Malloy, is seeking to reduce the possible penalties for drug possession, even if the person was in a school zone at the time of the offense.

Proponents of the change say that the current laws, which include a mandatory minimum of two years in jail for possession of drugs within a school zone, unfairly penalize those who live in the city. Because almost all of cities like Hartford and Bridgeport are classified as school zones, those living in these areas will face the harsher penalties even if they are not selling to children or around the actual school and playgrounds, which is what the mandatory minimum sentencing law was trying to punish. The current law defines school zones as the area within 1,500 feet of a school or day care facility.

The law would lessen the penalties for nonviolent offenders convicted of possession only and include setting a mandatory maximum sentence of three years' incarceration for anyone convicted of possessing drugs on the actual school property instead of the entire school zone. Proponents of the bill also believe that its passing will end up saving the state millions of dollars in incarceration costs.

It remains to be seen whether the Second Chance Society bill will pass, but it is important for both defendants and their attorneys to stay current on pending or possible legislation that may affect how these cases are handled moving forward.

Source: The Middletown Press, "Connecticut lawmakers mull demise of ‘school zone’ drug penalty," Mary O’Leary, May. 12, 2015

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