COLUMBUS -- A state lawmaker wants to increase penalties against dealers whose customers die from consuming the illegal drugs they provide.
Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, offered House Bill 508 as another means to cut down on drug abuse and addiction.
"... The drug problem ravaging communities throughout our state has hopefully shed light on this dark, dangerous, illicit business that continues to thrive, to the detriment of our kids," Butler said in testimony submitted to the Ohio House's Judiciary Committee Wednesday. "It is hard to make an argument that these vile entrepreneurs deserve anything other than the full force of our criminal justice system."
HB 508 would institute increased criminal penalties for drug dealers in cases where the people who purchase illegal drugs die.
Existing state law allows sentences of up to 11 years in prison for such crimes; the legislation would allow sentences of life in prison with or without parole, depending on the circumstances.
"Given the drug epidemic that is currently plaguing communities throughout Ohio, I strongly believe 11 years is a woefully insufficient penalty for an offense that all too often has devastating consequences for families and which kills young people in the prime of life," Butler said in his committee testimony. He added, "HB 508 is not meant to be a cure-all when with regards to putting drug dealers behind bars, but rather, if a drug dealer can be linked to a specific overdose victim, the bill is meant to give prosecutors more tools to ensure that these malevolent criminals face more severe penalties."