The House passed legislation that aims to crack down on heroin dealers and those who rob pharmacies. But critics argue the legislature is “backsliding” to previous, failed attempts to address the drug epidemic.
The bill increases penalties for robbing a pharmacy and dealing certain amounts of heroin. It also prevents a judge from suspending all or part of some heroin dealing sentences.
Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) says the bill goes against the state’s recent criminal code reform, which was designed to give judges more discretion in sentencing and eliminate increased sentences for variations of the same crime – such as pharmacy robbery penalties being different from other types of robbery.
“We need to keep our focus, our energy, and our dollars on prevention and treatment,” Pierce says.
But Rep. Tom Washburne (R-Evansville) says lawmakers have to confront the state’s drug crisis.
“As society changes, we have to recognize there’s going to be times we’ve got to break from these general principles and go after something very specifically,” Washburne says.
The bill goes back to the Senate, which can send the measure either to the governor or a conference committee.