Should dealers in Alabama who sell narcotic drugs that result in someone's death be charged with manslaughter?
State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) told 1819 News he plans to reintroduce the same bill in 2023 that he's filed in multiple previous sessions to heighten the penalty for such criminals in Alabama.
"It simply states if you are not licensed to sell a narcotic drug, and you do, and it kills somebody, then we can charge you with manslaughter," Pringle said in a text message to 1819 News.
Alabama has seen a spike in drug overdoses in recent years.
Drug overdoses increased more than 20% in Alabama from May 2019 to May 2020, according to the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
According to the 2021 annual report by the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council, opioid deaths increased nearly 30% in the first half of 2021 compared to 2020, with the "most notable increases among males."
Price Hornsby, 17 years old from Auburn, was one of these victims who succumbed to a fentanyl overdose in March 2021.
"He had dreams. He had aspirations, and he had struggles. He was a good kid. He made one bad decision, and that decision took his life," Ray Hornsby, Price's father, told Columbus, Ga. TV's WRBL in August. "He took one pill that had 11 times the lethal limit of fentanyl, and we found him in his bed dead on a Friday morning. When you see your child dead like that, it's a picture you never get out of your mind."
Price's family believes he had no idea the pill he bought was laced with fentanyl, according to WRBL.
Jessica Ventiere, Lee County District Attorney, told WRBL she supports enacting state laws holding dealers accountable for deaths from fentanyl-laced counterfeit drugs.
"Lee County is not immune to the fentanyl crisis we see across the country," Ventiere said. "In just two years, we've experienced a dramatic increase in fentanyl-related crimes and overdose deaths, especially in our older teens and younger adult population. Most alarming is that we see fentanyl pressed into counterfeit pills. These pills look exactly like prescription drugs, such as Adderall, Xanax, Oxycodone and Percocet. You cannot tell if drugs contain fentanyl by look, taste, smell or touch."
State Rep. Joe Lovvorn R-Auburn told WRBL in August he feels drug overdoses are "a growing problem that we need to assist law enforcement in addressing in any way we can."
"Representative Chris Pringle from Mobile had a bill dealing with this issue a few years back," Lovvorn said. "I have not heard of any current legislation, but I am supportive of the idea, and I'm open to suggestions from our law enforcement and judicial partners and suggestions of how to keep our citizens safe."
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.
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