BY MELANIE BUCK –
Many citizens may not be aware of a 2012 law that imposes harsher penalties on drug offenses that take place within certain limits of various structures and areas. The law, § 5-64-411 – Proximity to certain facilities — Enhanced penalties, states that any person in possession of a controlled substance where the offense is a Class C Felony or greater, or possess with the purpose to deliver, delivers, manufactures, or traffics a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of the real property of a city or state park; public or private elementary or secondary school, public vocational school, or private or public college or university; designated school bus stop as identified on the route list published by a public school district each year; skating rink, Boys Club, Girls Club, YMCA, YWCA, community center, recreation center, or video arcade; publicly funded and administered multifamily housing development; drug or alcohol treatment facility; day care center; or church, is subject to an enhanced sentence of an additional term of imprisonment of ten (10) years to run consecutively or concurrently with other sentences rendered, at the discretion of the court.
The law also states that any person convicted under this section of law is not eligible for early release on parole or community correction transfer for the enhanced portion of the sentence.
In Mena and Polk County, there are many facilities that fit the description of these properties. Geographically, within the city limits of Mena, most of the town is within 1,000 feet of any one of the ‘real properties’ described within the law. In fact, many of the accused in Polk County’s recent Operation Pilled-Up, were within these areas and have enhanced penalties pending on their cases.