Drafted legislation creates mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 6:43 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The fentanyl crisis continues to grow across the country. Now an Alabama lawmaker has drafted a bill to help combat that crisis within the state.

In Alabama, mandatory minimum jail sentences exist for every illegal drug, except fentanyl, so this legislation would create one.

Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Baldwin County, sponsored the legislation.

“It’s not something that you wake up the next day and you’re addicted, Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people that just don’t wake up the next day,” said Simpson.

Simpson’s legislation creates mandatory sentences based on grams of fentanyl.

  • One to two grams = three calendar years
  • Two to four grams = 10 calendar years
  • Four to eight grams = 25 calendar years
  • Eight or more grams = life sentence

Time served ranges from three years for one gram to a life sentence for eight or more grams of fentanyl.

“We’ve seen the deaths grow, where right now we’re 81% of the deaths from the overdoses that they deal with have to do with fentanyl,” said Simpson.

Simpson is talking about his district, which includes Baldwin County, but the number of fentanyl deaths is rising statewide.

“I think it’s important for all the citizens to understand that every community is at risk,” said Dr. Julia Boothe the president of the Medical Association of the state of Alabama.

According to the association, from 2020 to 2021, overdose deaths increased by 135.9%.

“Let your kids know that this isn’t something to play with,” said Simpson.

Simpson says his bill was drafted with the help of district attorneys forensic scientist, and law enforcement. Sheriff Cunningham in Montgomery says they’re on board with anything that helps put a stop to the drug.

“I want to see tough penalties for that person,” said Cunningham. “Because you could be standing in line at Walmart, and they have fentanyl, and they pull it out of their pockets. And you just got a whiff of it.”

If someone is exposed, you can administer Narcan to stop an overdose. That is available for free through the Alabama Department of Mental Health.

Legislators can debate this bill when they meet in March.

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