Alabama State Representatives unanimously pass bill to impose mandatory sentences for trafficking fentanyl

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 4:42 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Mandatory sentences for trafficking fentanyl could soon be coming to the state of Alabama after House Bill 1 presented by Rep. Matt Simpson of Daphne was passed unanimously by the state house yesterday.

“One of the things I’m most proud about is it had 101 co-sponsors and that just shows you how important it is and how much it’s affecting all the citizens of Alabama,” said Simpson.

Simpson says after a deadly 2022 fentanyl continues to be a problem across the entire state.

“We had over 1000 deaths from fentanyl in Alabama last year and that number is only going up. It’s already increased 136%,” said Simpson. “About 80% of the overdoses that you see right now are fentanyl overdoses.

That includes Mobile County. Sheriff Paul Burch says keeping fentanyl off the streets can be a challenge under the current law.

“We make some arrests that involve fentanyl every few days. Right now, you get a slap on the wrist because there’s just not applicable parts of the law that allow a judge to sentence them to the time they need to be sentenced too,” said Burch.

Simpson says right now there are fines imposed for trafficking and possible jail time but no mandatory sentences. Under House Bill 1 a person with one gram of fentanyl but less than two would automatically serve three years in prison once convicted. Anyone with eight grams or more would automatically serve life in prison.

“Our law enforcement officers need to know that if they take their time and put their lives on the risk to arrest someone for trafficking fentanyl that there’s actually teeth to the law and that person is going to be behind bars,” said Simpson.

There are also enhancements in the bill for repeat offenders. A second arrest would result in five extra years in prison while a third or subsequent arrest adds an extra 10 years.

From here the bill will go to the senate floor before going to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk. State lawmakers are on spring break next week before returning to Montgomery on April 4.