Senator Kissel Opposes Legislation Decreasing Penalty for Crack-Cocaine Possession

May 20, 2005

Senator John A. Kissel (R-Enfield) yesterday voted in opposition to legislation that would decrease the penalties for those convicted of dealing crack-cocaine. SSB 6635 would increase the amount of crack-cocaine a Connecticut citizen would have to possess to invoke the five-year mandatory minimum sentence reserved for drug dealers. While currently the possession of ½ gram of crack-cocaine triggers the presumption that one is a dealer, this legislation would change it to one ounce, the same as powdered cocaine.

“This sends the wrong message to our kids, to our law enforcement officials, to drug dealers, and to all citizens of Connecticut,” said Senator Kissel who is the Ranking Senator on the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee. “What this legislation says is that an individual would have to possess up to 56 times the amount of crack-cocaine that current law allows before facing the mandatory minimum sentence.”

“We are not talking about drug addicts, since those that can prove an addiction are not subject to the mandatory minimum,” continued Senator Kissel. “We are targeting dealers who are preying on our youth. O ne who is merely an addict would not be walking around with an ounce of crack-cocaine, which has a street value in the thousands of dollars, in his or her pocket.”

Senator Kissel also proposed an amendment to the bill that sought to strike a reasonable balance between the amount of crack-cocaine and powdered cocaine one would have to possess to trigger the mandatory minimum sentence. The amendment set 14 grams, or one-half ounce, as the trigger for the crime of possession with intent to sell for both crack-cocaine and powdered cocaine.

“If the goal is to equalize penalties between dealers of crack-cocaine and powdered cocaine, it seems like better public policy to opt towards strengthening penalties for drug dealers, rather than weakening them,” added
Senator Kissel.

The amendment was defeated 23-13 along a mostly party-line vote.

Senator Kissel represents the 7 th district communities of East Granby, Enfield, Granby, Somers, Suffield, Windsor, and Windsor Locks.