EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) – On Tuesday, Senator Mike Braun was one of several lawmakers attached to a Senator Marco Rubio sponsored bill that would make charges of fentanyl distribution resulting in death equivalent to felony murder charges.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding weighed in saying he doesn’t believe such a law would be going far enough.
“I think it’s a feel-good type of legislation, but it’s not going to get to the root of the problem,” he said.
The proposed legislation explicitly states that if the bill were passed, in first-degree cases, distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, the punishment should be life imprisonment or death.
Wedding said he feels laws should focus on any dealing.
“Why do we wait until a death results from distribution of fentanyl before we seriously charge a drug dealer?” he said.
Brandon Smiley, an addiction treatment specialist said he is glad to see legislation that would more severely punish people for any role they may have played in an overdose.
“It’s hurting people, it’s hurting the community, it’s costing taxpayers thousands of dollars for this epidemic,” Smiley said. “If you’re selling it intentionally knowing they can kill people, then yes, you should be held accountable for your actions.”
Wedding said in his ideal world, any dealing charge would be met with a long prison sentence with no plea deals and no parole.
The Drug Enforcement Agency’s current guidelines punish fentanyl distribution in a tiered approach.
Dealing less than 400 grams resulting in death or serious injury could land you between 20 years and life in prison on your first offense, and a second offense would automatically be a life sentence.
Dealing 400 grams or more resulting in death or injury follows the same year penalty but with steeper fines of up to $20 million for an individual.