State Rep. Matt Simpson (R–Daphne) will introduce legislation in the 2023 regular session creating mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking fentanyl in Alabama.
In a press conference Monday, Simpson announced a proposed bill that would add a mandatory minimum sentence of three years imprisonment and a minimum fine of $50,000 for anyone found guilty of trafficking one to two grams of fentanyl.
"The bill I have been working on will make sure that these drug dealers who are selling fentanyl to our kids will actually be put in prison where they belong," Simpson said in a statement.
Those found guilty of trafficking two to four grams of fentanyl would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $100,000 fine. Four to eight grams of fentanyl trafficked would receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and a $500,000 fine.
Anyone found guilty of trafficking eight grams or more of fentanyl would serve a minimum sentence of life in prison and pay a minimum fine of $750,000.
According to a copy of the draft legislation sent to 1819 News, a second conviction of the same offense would incur an additional penalty of five years of incarceration in a state corrections facility, which is not subject to suspension or probation. A third conviction would merit an additional penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
Simpson said he has been having discussions with law enforcement officials, judges and other legislators to add prison time as a punishment for people found guilty of trafficking the deadly drug.
"Right now, these dealers use their drug money to just pay the fine and then go right back out and keep selling this poison," Simpson said. "I want to make sure that we keep these dealers of death off of our streets and out of our neighborhoods by adding prison time to the punishments for this horrible crime."
Simpson said he and other officials from around the state he's worked with on this bill all agree it is time for a change in sentencing for this drug.
"Fentanyl is the only drug that you can traffic in the state of Alabama and not get jail time for, despite it being one of the deadliest and most harmful drugs out there," Simpson said. "It is past time for that to change. You should not be allowed to push a drug that kills children in our community and not have to go to prison."
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."
State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) told 1819 News last week he plans to reintroduce the same bill in 2023 that he's filed in multiple previous sessions to file manslaughter charges against drug dealers who sell a narcotic drug that results in the recipient dying.
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