Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23rd) announced this week that he has proposed a bill known as HELP, or the Help Ensure Lives are Protected act.
The bill is designed to make stiffer punishments for drug dealers who are directly connected to an overdose death.
In a press release on Reed's website it says:
"(The act) would allow federal prosecutor expanded access to more severe penalties, including life in prison or the death penalty, when prosecuting certain criminal drug cases where prosecutors can connect an overdose death to the drug dealer that sold heroin laced with fentanyl."
Is the death penalty a suitable punishment for a drug dealer directly connected to a fentanyl related overdose death? @WKBW
— Jeff Rusack (@JeffRusack) September 27, 2016
“Utilizing the discretion of the U.S. Attorney's office to go after the worst of the worst. These are dealers that we're targeting that are cutting this heroin with fentanyl, which is highly addictive and kills,” said Rep. Tom Reed over the phone Tuesday.
Congressman Reed says he decided to support this bill after a series of round table discussions about the wide spread use of fentanyl laced heroin.
One mother knows the cost of fentanyl first hand.
“I had a bad feeling all day that something was wrong. I couldn't get a hold of Alex,” recalled Kim Carlson. She was the mother of 26-year-old Alex Foulk.
This past February she gave her son a bit of advice.
“I said, ‘Alex, you need to know, just be aware of this heroin that is going around is deadly. It's killing people.’ And he said, ‘don't worry mom. I'd never touch that crap.’ That was the last conversation I had with him,” told Calrson.
Another life cut short, by the heroin epidemic.
“The heroin he was using was laced with fentanyl. It was mostly fentanyl,” said Carlson.
Carlson is now fighting the heroin epidemic, she's set up a fund in her son's memory and trying to get a better transitional home for people just leaving rehab. She is hosting a fundraiser and opportunity to address the heroin epidemic this Saturday at the Northwest Arena in Jamestown.
— Jeff Rusack (@JeffRusack) September 28, 2016
Rep. Reed hopes stiffer penalties will make drug dealers think twice before selling fentanyl. Carlson says she thinks a bill like this would be similar to laws holding people responsible who over-serve alcohol.
“I would have to agree that the same thing would have to apply where somebody is intentionally adding a deadly drug, and a deadly dose to an illegal drug. They should be held accountable,” said Carlson.