After announcing the arrest of Dorchester man for allegedly cocaine and heroin last month, Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden made a distinction between the treatment of drug users and drug dealers.
“This is the type of high-volume drug activity that can grind neighborhoods down. We have no desire to incarcerate those with substance use issues. But a person who has been convicted of dealing and continues that activity presents a problem that must be addressed, for the good of our communities,” Hayden said in a press release.
But getting drug dealers off the streets and keeping them off is an uphill battle.
Case in point, Monday’s arrest of a Boston man accused of selling drugs in the Mass and Cass after police officers reportedly saw several drug
deals taking place. He was charged with distribution of a Class B substance (crack cocaine), second offense.
The alleged dealer has a 20-page criminal record dating back to the 1980s. He’s been around the block, got arrested, and returned to the block many times.
So why, with a record like that, did he manage to get bail on a pending Roxbury drug case? Isn’t a defendant’s record one of the factors which determines how bail is set?
A judge on Tuesday revoked the man’s bail for that case for 60 days, and imposed $2,501 bail on the new case and a stay away order from the
MassachusettsAvenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard area.
Considering that the suspect had $1,941 on him when searched by officers, coming up with $2,501 for bail wouldn’t seem to be a burden.
The alleged dealer in November had bail set at $25,000, Granted the drugs in that case were both cocaine and heroin, but bail in the four figures would certainly serve as greater deterrent to turn around and commit the same sort of crime than a lower amount.
How many of those plying their trade on Mass and Cass are repeat offenders? And how will law enforcement hope to make a dent in the drug crisis there if the alleged dealers they arrest can hit the streets after coughing up the price of big-screen TV?
Mass and Cass is a goldmine for drug dealers. In the name of “harm reduction,” the Boston Public Health Commission and other area institutions are giving out pipes for smoking crack and meth, “cookers,” tourniquets and syringes. It must be a particularly easy sell if one’s target market is all ready to use what you’re dealing.
And as Monday’s arrest reveals, having a long rap sheet won’t necessarily deter a low bail, and one is back on the street in no time – even if you promise to “keep away” from a lucrative market.
Bail reform, the end of mandatory minimum sentences, and the view of incarceration as something to avoid at all costs is making it that much harder to fight crime.
If dealing remains a money-maker, and if there are enough factors enabling the sale of drugs, the Mass and Cass mess will remain.
The wrong people are making it in Massachusetts.