Drug lords are typically rolling in cash so why is it that law-abiding citizens have to pay for their prosecutions after cops bust them on major drug charges?

Assemblyman Ron Dancer is sponsoring a bill that will charge those convicted of first-degree drug offenses for the costs associated with their prosecution and conviction.  The penalty would be in addition to the imposition of any fine imposed by a court as prescribed under current law.

Illinois enacted similar legislation last August which took effect on January 1. Dancer says, "When I learned that this has been found constitutional in the state of Illinois I thought that New Jersey should be the second state in the nation."

In addition to being the leader of a drug trafficking network, other first degree drug offenses include: a person who operates a controlled and dangerous substance facility; anyone who manufactures, distributes or dispenses a controlled dangerous substance; and anyone who booby traps a manufacturing or distribution location.

"This legislation is aimed at the drug kingpins who direct and oversee the sale of illegal narcotics," says Dancer. "The cost of investigating, arresting and prosecuting someone who leads a drug distribution network is borne by the taxpayers."

Penalties for these offenses range from 10-20 years in prison for the manufacture of illegal narcotics or maintaining a facility that houses such drugs, to life in prison for someone who is convicted for leading a drug trafficking network. Courts may also impose fines ranging from $500,000 to $750,000. Under Dancer's bill, fees collected would be distributed to local and State law enforcement agencies involved in the prosecution and conviction of the defendant.

Dancer explains, "For those who play a prominent role in an 'industry' that causes so much physical, emotional and mental pain, making restitution for the expenses incurred to put them behind bars is certainly justified. Society is better off when drug-dealing predators are off the street, and taxpayers are better off if they don't have to pick up the tab for putting them where they belong."