Daily Archives: April 3, 2008

Who’s putting kids in danger?

The world is a big, bad place. It really is. Which is why we have to protect children. No one will argue with that. Which is why there are tons of laws on the books criminalizing conduct that harms children, for the most part with extra penalties. I agree.

One of these laws is the prohibition against selling drugs in a school zone (or within a certain radius around a school, park or some other such location where children congregate). Whatever your views on drugs, I think you would be hard pressed to argue against the notion that children need not be in the presence of drugs or drug activity. We certainly don’t want drugs being sold in the presence of children. Someone sells drugs within 1500 feet of a school, they’re arrested and prosecuted (although in a state like CT, you’d be hard-pressed to find a spot that isn’t within 1500 feet of a school).

So why, then, do police engage in a very curious practice? Those who practice criminal law probably know what I’m about to say.

Cops target a dealer, perhaps making a hand-to-hand through an undercover officer. That’s not enough and they want more. So they arrange to make another purchase and another. Sometimes, they arrange for these transactions to take place in a parking lot of a pharmacy. Sometimes, coincidentally, the parking lot is within 1500 feet of a school.

Arresting a suspect for sale of narcotics isn’t enough – they want to tack on the added punishment of a sale w/in 1500 feet. So to accomplish that, they lure the suspect to a location they know to be w/in 1500 feet of a school.

If we are supposed to be protecting children from this behavior, then why are cops setting up such behavior in the presence of the very children we are trying to protect?

Curious, isn’t it?

There must be something in the water

What is it in Connecticut’s water that makes some people batty? Whatever it is, it seems to have some staying power. After Cheshire and more recently the killing in New Britain, Connecticut Congressman Chris Murphy has announced plans to introduce legislation making “home invasion” a Federal crime. From his press release, a copy of which is posted at CTLP:

Today, Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5) announced a pair of legislative initiatives designed to make home invasion a federal crime and provide additional federal resources and technology to parole and probation officials. Connecticut residents have witnessed two heinous home invasions and murders in less than a year – one just this weekend in New Britain, and one in July in Cheshire.
Murphy’s proposal intends to:

  • make home invasion a federal crime;
  • improve the FBI’s tracking of home invasions across the country;
  • improve federal resources for parole and probation activities, including federal funds for the use of GPS monitoring devices and the hiring of additional parole and probation officers;
  • And create a national training center for parole and probation officials.

“Connecticut has been through enough this year. These senseless crimes have hurt so much more than our homes and families – they have shattered our sense of safety and security in our communities. It’s time for the federal government to provide more assistance to the states to keep us safe,” said Murphy.

Now, I’m no Constitutional scholar and I know less about Federalism, but this quote sums up the nutiness of his proposal (thanks to a post on a local listserve):

“The Constitution requires a distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local, and there is no better example of the police power, which the Founders undeniably left reposed in the States and denied the central government, than the suppression of violent crime and vindication of its victims. Congress therefore may not regulate noneconomic, violent criminal conduct based solely on the conduct’s aggregate effect on interstate commerce.”

United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000). So what’s the basis here for Federal legislation? I guess if there was a firearm that was used. But wouldn’t there have to be a showing that the firearm crossed state borders? So we would be talking about a very, very small subset of home invasions.

The real reason, I suspect, is to look good. Two of the districts he represents happen to be the scenes of horrific crimes.

However, is there no one advising him? It didn’t occur to him that this would not fall under Federal jurisdiction? Waste taxpayer money and others’ time to look good?

What’s that deficit at now?