“We found several instances of judges chastising police for setting up undercover buys in drug-free school zones, and criminal defense lawyers told us it was not an uncommon occurrence,” said Ciaramella. “It’s contrary to the entire purpose of the zone—to keep drugs out—and gives the appearance that police are more interested in slapping drug offenders with enhanced sentences than keeping kids safe.
And those longer sentences?
In many states they have effectively meant harsher penalties for poor people, because drug-free school zones were expanded to include public housing. People in relatively wealthy neighborhoods thus risked one punishment for selling or possessing drugs, while people in relatively poor neighborhoods risked a much harsher penalty. The disparity contributed to racial inequities in sentencing and incarceration. Taxpayers were on the hook for bigger prison bills.”
“The most commonly charged crime in Washington shouldn’t be a crime at all, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union argues in a new report. Taxpayers spend more than $40 million a year to prosecute cases of third-degree driving with a suspended license…”
“The crime covers those who keep driving after having their licenses suspended for failing to pay traffic tickets or failing to show up for court hearings…”
“Cities and counties have wrestled for years with the heavy burden of the cases, which in some places have made up one-third or more of the local criminal docket.“
“In many areas the crime is effectively decriminalized already, leading to widely varying enforcement. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes began declining to prosecute it in the vast majority of cases soon after taking office, saying the cases cost a lot more than they bring in in fines and they’re not a public safety priority. The number of third-degree driving with a suspended license cases in Seattle fell from more than 3,900 in 2010 to 359 in 2015.“
The state has “one of the best and most impressive bail statutes in the entire country.” Trouble is, in the most populous city, the courts don’t actually follow it.