Charging the dealer with overdose deaths solves nothing (Opinion)
It's called strict liability drug-induced death. It's a criminal charge with serious consequences that tries to hold dealers or even friends who give someone heroin responsible if that person dies from an overdose. It can bring a sentence of 20 years in prison. In some ways this is very much like the civil laws holding bars and bartenders responsible for the drinking someone chooses to do. A big difference being alcohol is legal, heroin is not.
This tactic was just employed again in the arrest of Jobe M. Bizzarro after authorities say he supplied Steven Large, a 56 year old man, with heroin. Large died that same night. Authorities have been employing this charge more and more in recent years. Yet it has not lowered fatal overdoses. In fact, last year was the highest ever surpassing 3,000 deaths for the first time.
If you want to charge someone for selling drugs, I get that. If you want to claim they are responsible for the death of the person choosing to take those drugs, that's absurd. Nor is it doing anything to change behavior. No one willingly does heroin without knowing the enormous risk they are taking. This is playing Russian roulette with your life then someone else paying the price for your decision. As stated, this law is even used against friends who gained nothing financially by simply sharing their heroin. Both parties know what they are doing. As far as heroin being laced with fentanyl, a survey revealed that nearly 25% of heroin users actually prefer their drug laced with fentanyl. To call a drug dealers what they are, drug dealers, makes sense. To call them murderers does not. We certainly don't allow this with gun manufacturers.
Instead of finding new ways to put people in jail for longer periods of time we need to find more beds for people in more treatment facilities. We also need to eradicate the stigma of this kind of drug use. These people need help. They are risking their lives every time they use. They full well know that. To treat the ones who handed them the heroin that they themselves asked for as murderers solves nothing.
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