This week Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation to make it easier for local law enforcement to combat crime in these difficult financial times. “Every community in Illinois deserves the highest level of public safety, and law enforcement must have the tools to prevent, investigate, and fight crime,” Quinn said about the new laws. “These new laws help ensure that police departments throughout our state have the resources they need to fight drug and gang activity.”
House Bill 1258 will allow local law enforcement agencies to recover money spent in the investigation of drug crimes. From meth lab clean-up to responding to and investigating drug offenses, the costs can get pretty high. Cleaning up a single meth lab can cost up to $5,000. Once a conviction is reached in a drug case, the defendant can now be sentenced to pay fines and restitution to cover these costs.
According to the Associated Press, local agencies across the country have had to scale back on their meth investigations in particular, simply due to the money not being available like it once was. Illinois is considered in the top 10 of meth-producing states, along with Tennessee, Michigan, and others. As federal funding for local agencies has dropped significantly, so has their ability to go after meth labs.
There is ample evidence that meth is still a huge problem, despite the number of seizures dropping. In states who received federal money for meth lab seizures, the number of labs seized has fallen significantly with the drop in funding. For states who handled their own costs (like Illinois), seizures have soared. Illinois has seen a 36% increase in meth lab busts.
Though it’s not clear how much of the fines and restitution ordered will actually be collected, lawmakers are hopeful the new legislation will allow law enforcement across the state to stay on top of meth production and enforcement.
“Illegal drugs cost our law enforcement agencies thousands of dollars each year to investigate and secure controlled substance manufacturing sites,” said Senator Mike Noland (D-Elgin). “Our emergency response services should not bear these expenses, nor should Illinois taxpayers. It is time for convicted drug dealers to pay restitution for the work and materials that go into gathering evidence and securing sites left behind by manufacturing controlled substances.”
Another bill signed into law this week will allow local agencies to receive federal grants for gang prevention and intervention. Both laws will take effect January 1, 2012.
If you’re charged with a drug offense, particularly manufacturing meth, you can bet you will be prosecuted within every inch of the law. Having a defense attorney on your side during this time is crucial. Contact our attorney to discuss your case and the specific options you might have in fighting these charges.