HARRISBURG – In an effort to address the growing crisis of heroin and opioid addiction in Pennsylvania, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) introduced legislation today that would give prosecutors a new tool to punish drug dealers who are responsible for overdoses.
Bartolotta’s bill 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.
Because Pennsylvania lacks a statute pertaining to serious bodily injury resulting from an overdose, 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.
“Combatting the drug addiction problem requires lawmakers to address every aspect of the issue, but it is especially important to target those who are directly responsible for preying on those who are vulnerable and fueling this crisis for their own personal gain,” Bartolotta said. “Drug dealers who are responsible for the skyrocketing overdose rate need to be held responsible for the damage they cause, and my bill will ensure they can be held accountable at the local level.”
Bartolotta said the legislation 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 earlier this year.
CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463