New Jersey's 9th Legislative District

Connors, Rumpf & Gove

District 9

Connors, Rumpf & Gove: Time to Take the Fight to Heroin Dealers

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Heroin dealers must face harsher sentencing in light of the devastating consequences of their criminality activity, says the 9th District Legislative Delegation. Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove want the New Jersey Legislature to follow through on enhancing penalties for heroin possession as a direct measure to curb New Jersey’s deadly heroin epidemic.

Legislation sponsored by Connors, Rumpf and Gove would increase penalties for certain heroin offenses. (Victor/Flickr)

Connors, Rumpf and Gove have worked closely with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office on heroin-related policy matters, including the drafting of legislation. The 9th District legislators pointed to two recent major announcements regarding the deadly consequences and costs related to heroin use in their call for legislative action to go on the offensive with heroin dealers:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that, nationwide, heroin-related deaths have nearly quadrupled from 2002 to 2013. Confirming what many already suspected, our own state statistics show that New Jersey’s death rates are higher than the national average which was 2.7 per 100,000 people for that time period whereas the death rate in our state for 2013 was 8.3 deaths per 100,000. The number of heroin deaths in New Jersey was 781 in 2014, including those in which morphine was found to be present according to the New Jersey Office of the State Medical Examiner.”

In direct response to the heroin epidemic sweeping across the state, the 9th District delegation has introduced legislation (S-209/A-782), which was drafted in close collaboration with Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, to create a new classification scheme that would be established for certain controlled dangerous substances that empower prosecutors the option to grade the seriousness of a drug distribution offense by the number of dosage units involved rather than the actual weight of the drugs.

At the recommendation of the State Attorney General’s Office as well as county prosecutors, the delegation’s legislation calls for revising the narcotic drug provisions of the state’s distribution law to a first degree crime for distributing one or more ounces or 500 or more units, a second degree crime for distributing one-half to less than one ounce or 100 to less than 500 or more units, a third degree crime for less than one-half ounces or less than 100 units.

The 9th District legislators went on to further remark, “While enhancing drug treatment policies is essential to comprehensively combat the heroin epidemic, so is targeting heroin dealers who are the very source of this worsening crisis. Dealers prey on addicts with bags of heroin costing less than a pack of cigarettes. Arrests by law enforcement in our area of persons with ties to heroin rings are occurring at an alarming rate. Against these incredibly difficult odds, prosecutors need more effective legal tools to take heroin dealers off our streets for longer sentences.

“Certain hospitals in the state have agreed to pay for the cost of Narcan, the drug that reverses heroin overdoses. This is significant in that it demonstrates how widespread heroin use is becoming but also raises concerns regarding the controversy related to the dramatic rise in the price of Narcan subsequent to its increased use by law enforcement and medical personnel.”

Presently, S-209 is awaiting action by the Senate Judiciary Committee while A-782 awaits action by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

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