Governor Signs Bill to Stiffen Park Drug-Sales Penalties

Gov. George Deukmejian has signed a bill that provides stiffer jail terms to those who sell drugs to minors in public parks.

The measure imposes mandatory prison sentences of 5, 7 or 9 years, depending on the convicted person's criminal record, for drug sales to minors in parks. Existing law provided no standard penalty and, as a result, sentences were often much less than five years, said the bill's author, Assemblywoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles).

Roybal-Allard said she introduced the measure after reading a View story last September that detailed frequent drunkenness, violence and drug sales in many of the city's 300 parks, particularly those in areas with high minority populations. The story said that the once-pleasant gathering places were now referred to in local communities as "dead parks."

"Lots of money has not been put into these parks," said Roybal-Allard, a first-term representative whose district includes unincorporated East Los Angeles as well as Vernon, Maywood and Commerce.

"Families are reluctant to let their children go to parks even where programs exist because they are afraid they will be exposed to drug activity."

The bill was signed by Deukmejian on Thursday after passing the Assembly, 79-0, and the Senate, 37-0.

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