HARRISBURG – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would help district attorneys hold drug dealers more accountable for the injuries they cause, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).
Senate Bill 662 would strengthen penalties for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in serious bodily injury to the user, such as a permanent disfigurement or the loss or impairment of a body part or organ.
Pennsylvania currently lacks a statute pertaining to serious bodily injury resulting from an overdose. As a result, district attorneys often refer these cases to federal prosecutors who can seek convictions for serious bodily injury under federal law. Unfortunately, this places an undue strain on the United States Attorney’s Office and takes away the ability of local prosecutors to pursue convictions in their home jurisdictions.
In addition to creating the new statute, Bartolotta’s bill would require the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to create sentencing enhancement guidelines so judges have the ability to increase punishments when appropriate.
“The rising number of overdose deaths and serious injuries are a direct result of the increase in the number of chemicals added by drug dealers to make their products more potent and addictive,” Bartolotta said. “We should do everything in our power to make sure the people who are inflicting this sort of misery are held responsible for their actions and face a punishment that matches the severity of the crime.”
The bill was developed based on input gathered from a panel of local district attorneys who testified during a public hearing hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania in Beaver County last year.
The legislation was sent to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463