Yesterday's drug bust near the U of I campus not only ruined a lot of people's plans for this weekend, it also illustrated the stupidity of Illinois' controlled-substances law (one of my favorite topics). At least one of the suspects is being charged with enhanced felonies because the apartment from which he sold ecstasy and LSD was within 1,000 feet of a public park (namely, Scott Park, which has seen more bicycles thefts than picnics in its lifetime). This blog post could be about the 879,321 legal things that are more dangerous to do near a public park than selling drugs, but it's not. It's about geography and really cool maps that I made all by myself.
Section 407 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (720 ILCS 570/407) increases the punishment for selling a controlled substance when the sale occurs within 1,000 feet of (1) any "public park," (2) "the real property comprising any school," or (3) "the real property of any church, synagogue, or other building, structure, or place used primarily for religious worship."
I decided to make maps of Champaign-Urbana showing the areas that are within 1,000 feet of parks, schools, and places of worship. These are conservative maps. I erred on the side of not classifying something as a park, school, or church if there was any reasonable basis to argue that the location did not qualify (for example, I didn't count the U of I quad as a public park, and I didn't count nurseries or preschools as schools).
Here are the results:
Yes, the University of Illinois is a school within the meaning of the Act. See People v. Young, 2011 IL 111886, ¶ 13, 960 N.E.2d 559 (the term "school" under the Controlled Substances Act means "any public or private elementary or secondary school, community college, college or university.") When you drawn a 1,000 foot perimeter around all of the U of I's property, it basically takes up the whole town.
Places of worship:
So most of the drug sales in this town occur near campus or on the north side. Almost every part of campus is within 1,000 feet of some U of I property, and the north side of town seems to have more churches than fire hydrants.
I primarily relied upon Google to find the churches in town. I'm sure that there are many more churches, especially on the north side, but they don't have much of a web presence.
Here it is all together. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the special areas of town where we need to provide extra protection against drug dealers.