From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
April 28, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Senate Approves Ellis Measure to Expand Drug-Free Zones to Include Day-Care Centers

AUSTIN, Tx. -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today won unanimous Senate approval for legislation (Senate Bill 119) that would expand drug-free zones to include day-care centers in Texas. According to Ellis, the measure will help protect children from drug-related crimes.

"Too often in Texas, playgrounds are turning into gang battlegrounds where our children are caught in the crossfire," said Ellis. "This legislation will help protect our children and our communities from the dangers of drugs and violence."

According to Ellis, the 73rd Texas Legislature increased penalties for drug-related crimes in the vicinity of a school or playground. Ellis said his legislation would expand drug-free zones in Texas to include day-care centers. Under the proposed legislation, if an arrest is made in the vicinity of a day-care center, a conviction could increase the maximum sentence from ten years to 20 years with a $10,000 fine. Day-care facilities protected by the legislation include a kindergarten, preschool or after-school program as well as a federal Head Start program with more than 12 children.

"We must do all we can to protect the safety of our children and our communities," said Ellis. "Children need a safe and secure environment to learn, grow and succeed. Day-care facilities in Texas must be safe havens for hope, not danger zones for dope."

According to the Children's Defense Fund, a child is killed by gunfire in America every two hours. The national Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 12 percent of state prison inmates said they committed a violent offense to obtain money for drugs. In Texas, data provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows that almost eight percent of all arrests in 1995 involved the sale or possession of drugs.

"We all share a deep and enduring belief that our children are our future," said Ellis. "Expanding drug-free zones to include day-care facilities is one important way to help protect our children's health, safety, and education."