Monday, October 2, 2023

New Legislation Seeks to Strengthen Penalties for Fentanyl-Laced Drug Dealers

In a move to combat the devastating fentanyl epidemic that has gripped the state of Pennsylvania, Senator Dave Argall (R-29) threw his support behind a bill aimed at imposing harsher penalties on drug dealers who peddle lethal substances. 

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 235, known as "Tyler's Law," has garnered bipartisan approval in the Pennsylvania Senate, with a vote of 35-14.

The pressing need to address the fentanyl crisis, which has claimed countless lives in the Keystone State, was emphasized by Senator Argall. He stated, "We need to take a strong stand against the fentanyl epidemic, which has killed far too many Pennsylvanians."

Argall says right now, Pennsylvania's legal framework under the Drug Delivery Resulting in Death Statute does not provide adequate deterrence against drug dealers responsible for fatal overdoses. This has allowed many of these offenders to return to the streets in a mere two years or even less. 

Alarming statistics from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, spanning the period from 2017 to 2021, reveal that the average sentence for those convicted under the statute is less than five years. In some cases, offenders convicted under this statute have escaped incarceration altogether.

In response to these concerning figures and the need for stricter penalties, Senate Bill 235, "Tyler's Law," has been introduced. The proposed legislation, named in memory of Tyler Shanafelter from central Pennsylvania, who tragically lost his life in 2020 after unknowingly ingesting fentanyl-laced pills he believed to be Percocet, seeks to impose a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a hefty fine of $15,000 on drug dealers convicted of distributing or selling drugs that lead to a death.

According to a press release from Senator Argall'soffice, in 2021 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported over 100,000 fentanyl- and opioid-related deaths, marking a 15% increase compared to the previous year.

With the Senate's support for "Tyler's Law," the legislation is now poised to advance to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.