State Rep. Matt Simpson got some support from Gov. Kay Ivey recently for his fentanyl mandatory minimum sentence bill.
“Tonight, I am also urging you, our legislators, to pass House Bill One so I can sign it into law as soon as possible,” Ivey said during her State of the State speech last week. “By doing this, we will put any traffickers of this deadly drug behind bars – and keep them there.”
Simpson (R-Daphne) has pre-filed House Bill 1, which adds a mandatory minimum sentence of three years imprisonment and a minimum fine of $50,000 for anyone found guilty of trafficking one to two grams of fentanyl.
During a recent appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Simpson discussed why it’s important to put fentanyl traffickers behind bars.
“That’s what we’re trying to get to, to make sure the message is out there that if you traffic fentanyl, if you’re brining fentanyl into our state, we’re going to come after you and you’re going to spend a lengthy amount of time in jail,” Simpson said. “I understand the argument about ‘hey, everybody should get rehab.’ I disagree. Some people need prison. Some people need to be put out of the streets so they can’t hurt anybody else.”
The lawmakers said there is an urgent need to address this crisis as soon as possible because the number of overdose deaths in Alabama and across the country continues to grow.
“The deaths in Alabama went from 150 to 417 deaths from fentanyl in 2021…This drug has become an epidemic on our communities and it’s killing so many people left and right,” Simpson said. “A lot of people don’t know that fentanyl is in with what they’re taking. Unfortunately this isn’t an issue where if you’re addicted it will kill you over time.
“Fentanyl is a pill where one pill will kill you.”
Simpson said his bill is specifically designed to go after those dealing and trafficking the drug, not those who are caught just using it.
“Trafficking is anyone who sells, manufactures, delivers, or is in possession of a certain weight of the drug,” he said. “So this isn’t just your one pill person. This isn’t just your addict or your user. These are the people that are brining it into the community and people that are distributing and bringing that drug into our communities that we have.
“We wanted to make sure that we went after the distributors.”
He also said as a former prosecutor, he decided to use his experience to be tough on criminals. Which is why he ran for the office in the first place.
“I’m focused on criminal justice bills because that’s what I know,” he said. “I ran because there wasn’t somebody with my voice…you don’t have a lot of prosecutors in here. You have some law enforcement, you have some other lawyers in here, but you generally don’t have that prosecutor understanding of the day to day operations of how a bill can change and a law can change what goes on in the courtroom in everyday…
“I wanted to run as part of that and that was a part of my campaign platform, and I’m happy to continue that fight.”
Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee
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