Kentucky lawmakers discuss proposed bill that could lead to murder charges in overdose deaths
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky lawmakers discussed a proposed bill that could lead to murder charges in drug overdose deaths.
An interim committee heard testimony from police officers about that on Thursday.
House Bill 388 was brought up this past session, but even the sponsor says it is mainly to get the conversation started. Twenty states have enhanced charges, and police said today they need more tools when dealing with overdose death cases.
“We are in crisis mode, in Madison County, specifically in the City of Richmond,” said Richmond Police Chief Rodney Richardson.
Chief Richardson told the interim judiciary committee the city is averaging almost one overdose death a week. They had 85 in 2021. Police say they can charge those who supply the drugs with manslaughter, but he says parents of victims want something more serious. Manslaughter carries a 5 to 10-year max penalty. He’s in favor of a murder overdose law.
“But I can only imagine how the parents feel when we tell them the individual that caused their baby’s death can only be charged with murder and not manslaughter,” said Chief Richardson. “They just cannot comprehend why it is any different.”
There was some opposition shared on Thursday. A representative with the department for public advocacy says the way the bill is written even a person who unknowingly passes a marijuana joint laced with fentanyl could face a murder charge.
Supporters say they are hopeful a new version of house bill 388 will be discussed when lawmakers start the 2024 session.
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