New Bill Targets Drug Dealers [AUDIO]
New Jersey prosecutors could soon be getting a new tool to help fight the drug addiction and overdose death epidemic in the Garden State.
A bill ensuring large-scale drug dealers have more skin in the game, advanced in the Assembly Judiciary Committee Monday.
The measure (A4151) allows prosecutors to grade drug offenses by dosages, instead of weight, according to Assemblyman Brian Rumpf (R-9th), one of its primary sponsors.
Rumpf explained that under current law, someone carrying 500 individual doses of heroin would not be charged with a First Degree drug offense because it didn't meet the weight requirement.
"What this legislation would do is it would provide a basis upon which somebody convicted of having in their possession 500 or more units of heroin would now be charged and hopefully convicted of a first-degree crime," Rumpf explained.
"There would also be a separate category for those convicted of possessing 100 to 500 units of heroin, that would be considered a second degree crime and a third-degree crime for less than 100 units or one-and-a-half ounces as the existing law presently sets forth."
The bill also increases the penalties for those found in possession of the purest forms of drugs. They would be subjected to a minimum of 10 years in prison, he added.
This measure is the brain-child of Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, who asked his state representatives to draft the new legislation, as they continue to battle an unprecedented increase in drug overdose deaths. Ocean County is soon expected to exceed 100 overdose deaths this year.
Coronato has also divided its special drug enforcement task force into two divisions covering the northern and southern regions of the Ocean County, increased drug prevention education in schools. Another initiative is deploying drug-sniffing canine patrols through school facilities and parking lots, and an expanded drug court program for non-violent drug offenders.