America is in the middle of its deadliest epidemic. With overdose deaths expected to surpass 1,000 this year in Connecticut, lawmakers will push for tougher punishments for convicted dealers.
Stamford Advocate reports that several lawmakers renewed the push for lengthier jail sentences for drug dealers. Stafford State Rep. Kurt Vail also wants to charge those connected to drug overdose deaths with murder.
“People should all know how bad this epidemic is, and if you as a drug dealer take advantage of it and someone dies, you should be held accountable for taking the person’s life.”
However, chances of that happening are rather slim due to the state’s ongoing budget crisis. Strange argument, but if you think about the cost per inmate, the charges do add up. Not to mention Connecticut is the state that spends the most on its inmates.
Opponents say enacting such a standard would clog prisons which would ramp up state costs and that the measure would further stigmatize drugs.
Also, as Enfield State Senator John Kissell said those proposals contradict Governor Dan Malloy’s “Second Chance” initiative. The Governor called for a change in the sentencing of young offenders. The proposal also does away with cash bail for misdemeanor charges.
Plus, others claim increasing sentencing would overcrowd our currently strained criminal justice system. It would send too many to trial.
Because of that, the state’s Judiciary Committee continually rejects proposals that demand harsher sentences for dealers.
And that’s the reason why those in support of stricter penalties bemoan the system.
Pam Bacco lost her son, Christopher, when he was just 25-years-old son to an overdose death. Alarmingly, his father, Mark Lynch, provided the heroin that took his life.
Lynch currently faces second-degree manslaughter charges, which doesn’t carry a minimum jail sentence. Typically, those convicted face between 18 months to about four years.
Bacco says that’s a slap on the wrist:
“Drug dealers think they are untouchable, that they won’t get caught. They may go to jail for 15 or 18 months and get out. Then they get out on the streets and are doing it again and more people die.”
Bacco says even 100 years isn’t enough. It won’t bring her son back. But, she does hope stricter sentences can spare another family the grief of losing a child.
Considering drug overdose deaths continue to skyrocket in the state, lawmakers should change something in the criminal justice system. Clearly, something needs to be done to curb the epidemic and to dissuade drug dealers.
As it stands, Connecticut’s sentencing doesn’t suit the crime. Dealers know the risks and complications of using, but they don’t care about morals. They care about the money and making as much of it as possible.
So, you can argue they knowingly provide a fatal substance on the daily and don’t care about who lives or who dies.
Now do you really want people like that walking the streets and furthering this epidemic? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
New Jersey passed a minimum sentencing law that carries a 10-year prison sentence to those found guilty of drug-induced deaths.
Also, on the federal level, that charge carries a 20-year minimum sentence.
President Trump even declared the opioid epidemic an official emergency.
“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially, right now, it is an emergency. It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”
So, why does Connecticut continue to humanize dealers? True, some may be addicts themselves, which is a terribly sad reality. But that still doesn’t excuse the consequences of their actions.
But, in an age where overdose deaths kill more Americans than guns, it makes you wish lawmakers would spend more energy to mitigate this unnecessary loss of life.
True, banning drugs did diddly with the so-called “War on Drugs.” Also, those can argue that if you take one dealer down, two more will pop up in his/her place. It’s a never-ending cycle that needs to be broken.
But, the interesting argument is: if someone increased the penalties, would dealers be as willing to sell? It’s the age-old risk versus reward paradigm. Once the risk outweighs the reward, then we might see a change.
As of now, as Bacco put it: dealers go right back to selling once they walk out of their cell. So, it’s not like they learn anything after serving time. If anything, our criminal justice system sees a revolving door of convicted felons who refuse to change their ways.
What should be done to reduce drug overdose deaths? Should dealers face stricter penalties for their crimes or is something else fueling the epidemic. Either way, something needs to change. And fast.