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Louisiana Lawmakers Want to Increase Mandatory Minimums for Heroin Possession

  1. Rob Cypher
    Lawmakers in Louisiana want to double mandatory minimum sentences for heroin-related crimes in response to rising rates of use in the state. The bill passed its first round of votes without dissent and is now on its way for a full House vote, where it is likely to receive bi-partisan support.

    The bill would increase the mandatory minimum sentences for heroin manufacture, production, and distribution from 5 years to 10. More disconcerting, however, is the bill's guarantee of a two-year prison sentence for anybody found to be in possession of heroin. There are currently no mandatory minimum sentences for heroin possession in Louisiana.

    The "need" for the policy change is mostly being confirmed by law enforcement figures, who testified in front of lawmakers before they made a decision on the bill.

    "Make it severe. Make people understand, 'You do heroin, you're going to do time,'" said Louisiana Sheriff Association Executive Director Michael Ranatza, as reported by Times Picayune.

    Even some Democrats lined up to support the measure: "I've got to support this bill and the reason I've got to support it is I think it's a preventative measure," said state Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, during the hearing.

    Those opposing the bill also testified, citing the mountains of evidence that indicate harsher sentences do not curb drug consumption.

    "Possession of heroin, to increase the penalties, which is contained in this bill, I believe is taking Louisiana back...This is a public health issue. We shouldn't be making criminals of people who have gone from oxycontin to heroin," said Robert Toale, Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as reported by the Times Picayune.

    Currently, Louisiana has the highest rate of incarceration in the nation.

    Aaron Cantu
    March 28, 2014



  1. 5-HT2A
    What a disgrace. God only knows how many more lives this type of failed thinking will piss away. Hoping this legislation dies a quick death.
  2. BitterSweet
    It should be obvious by now that legal consequences are negligible in their impact on drug use. The current minimum sentence of 5 years already seems to be disproportionate to the crime. After a certain amount of punishment, I think anything beyond has an increasingly smaller amount of effect. I don't need to say more about this because we all know how flawed a move it is to increase penalties and expect that to curtail drug use effectively.
  3. cz-one
    You always find with politicians wanting to make punishments harsher that they have a vested interest somewhere. Like they have shares in the companies running the prisons,and so rather than address the real issues that lead to heroin use-poverty,boredemn,lack of opportunity,self medicating because of physical or psychological issues,and so on,or just liking getting high!-they seek the most profitable action in terms of their career and finances. They are all self-serving scumbags.
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