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Reclaiming the Parks

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Queens community activist Mandingo Tshaka has called on the city to designate parks where children play as drug-free zones. He wants the city to place visible signs stating as much in such places. Those who sell and use drugs in these areas will face tougher prosecution.

Tshaka wants the signs placed at every park or school entrance, on telephone poles and 1,000 feet around schools or parks. He argues that the area is "prime real estate there with these little children."

Tshaka's proposal has state Sen. Frank Padavan's support and is likely to win over City Hall.

We agree with Tshaka in principle, but are not confident that this alone will have an impact on the drug trade. State law already mandates tougher punishment for people caught selling drugs near a school.

Punishment must be coupled with aggressive rehabilitation and an effort to change popular culture, which often glorifies drug use. The lesson of the Rockefeller drug laws is clear: harsher punishments and lengthy prison sentences did little to get drugs off city streets.

Tshaka's proposal is part of the solution.

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