Judge OK’s Or. “Totalitarian” Drug-Free Zones


A judge has upheld a Portland, Or., drug-free zone law, but he directed the city and the district attorney to adjust the way in which the cases are prosecuted, the Oregonian reports. Circuit Judge Michael Marcus threw out a legal attack that said African Americans are more frequently cited for violations than whites. He admonished the city for using the ordinance not just to rid areas of drug dealers but also of the homeless, the mentally ill, and the poor. Marcus said he doubted that the city would spend an equivalent amount of effort going after “targets dressed and otherwise presented as prosperous professionals discreetly buying and selling powder cocaine.”

Drug-free zones were created in two neighborhoods, including downtown, in 2002. The intent was to prevent people convicted of possessing or dealing illegal drugs from conducting business in those areas. Punishment for violations usually is a day or two of community service or a fine. Marcus used most of a 44-page ruling to express his view that the ordinance abridges fundamental freedoms. Police, he said, need only a reasonable suspicion that someone should not be in a drug-free zone to issue a citation, which he said is akin to “totalitarian approaches to social control.”

Link: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1114164032284080.xml&coll=7

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