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An Empirical Study of the School Zone Law in Three Cities in Massachusetts.

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This study of the 1989 Massachusetts' School Anti-Drug law reviewed 443 drug dealing cases in three cities. After selecting cities and drug dealing cases, researchers reviewed District Attorney case files and extracted selected data items (primarily from police reports). They mapped incident locations, schools, and parks in the cities; computed distances from drug dealing incident locations to schools and parks; analyzed time/date and geographic factors influencing case outcomes; and analyzed the geography of drug dealing with reference to the school zone law. Although few drug dealing cases involved sales to minors, most occurred within school zones (due to the density of schools in high poverty/high drug dealing areas). In most school zone cases, defendants pleaded to lesser charges and received lesser sentences. The study concludes that the school zone statute does not make areas around schools particularly safe for children, cannot reasonably be expected to do so, and is not used by prosecutors in a way calculated to move drug dealing away from schools. Instead, the law operates generally to raise the penalty level for drug dealing and does so in ways that are unpredictable for defendants. Individual school data are appended. (SM)

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Author:Brownsberger, William N.; Aromaa, Susan
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:Jul 2, 2001
Words:265
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