Newsbrief: "Kiddie Meth" Legislation Spreads to Illinois, Missouri 2/28/03

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In December, DRCNet reported on an effort afoot in Colorado to punish methamphetamine manufacturers who have children by charging them with felony child abuse and allowing state authorities to initiate civil child negligence proceedings to remove such children (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/269.html#homemethlabs). Now, similar moves are underway in Illinois and Missouri.

In Illinois, State Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), a member of the state Senate Judiciary Committee, announced on February 17 that he will introduce legislation to double prison sentences and fines for meth cooks "whose operations endanger children," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Haine did not explain whether his legislation would assume, as do the Colorado bills, that any meth cooking in a home where children live would constitute endangering children. The bill has not yet been filed, and Haine told the Post-Dispatch he was consulting with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on precise wording.

Haine, a former Madison County prosecutor, made the announcement at a joint news conference with Madigan. "It's greed run amok, and greed that preempts any concern for children," Haines asserted.

Madigan, for her part, recounted de rigeur meth horror stories while urging support for the as yet unwritten bill. "Criminals who cook drugs next to where they cook dinner simply do not care about the welfare of children," she said.

Across the Mississippi River in Missouri, state Sen. Steve Stoll (D-Festus) is vowing similar action, according to the Post-Dispatch. Stoll told a gathering of Midwest narcotics investigators and politicians at a February 21 meth summit in Pacific, MO, that he would introduce legislation making it a crime to cook meth where children live or within 2,000 feet of a school. Violators would face a minimum 10-year prison sentence, he said. "We need to convince people that there is a risk to making methamphetamine and they are going to go to prison for it," Stoll said.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, the kiddie meth bills are moving. House Bill 03-1040, which would make meth manufacture in the presence of a child prima facie evidence of child abuse, has passed the House and passed the state Senate Judiciary Committee. It awaits a vote of the full Senate. HB 03-1169, which would allow for civil child neglect proceedings in cases of meth manufacture has been sent from the House Judiciary Committee to the Appropriations Committee, where it awaits action.

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