OD deaths prompt call for dealers' registration
Convicted drug dealers should be required to register with the state as convicted sex offenders do, said state Sen. Kim Ward.
The Hempfield Republican last month introduced a bill that would require drug dealers convicted of a third offense to enter their names into a computerized state public registry similar to the sex offender's registry under Megan's Law. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The measure is in response to a surge in drug overdose deaths and proliferation of prescription drug abuse, the senator said.
“We were having such a drug issue in this area and I started attending meetings of Sage's Army. They said, here are some things that we think can make a difference,” Ward said.
The impetus for the bill, called “Sage's Law,” is the 2012 death of Sage Capozzi, 20, of Irwin who overdosed on heroin. His father, Carmen Capozzi, created Sage's Army, a nonprofit, grassroots organization that educates teens about drug dangers.
Under the proposed legislation, once a dealer is convicted of a third offense, he or she would be required to register with the state police as soon as freed from prison, placed on probation or released on parole. The data would include personal and biographical information, arrest and conviction details, place of residence, phone numbers and a photograph.
The database must include public access.
Ward said under current law, a defendant convicted a second time of drug offenses is subject to increased penalties. The requirements of her bill could be tightened as it proceeds through the legislative process.
“We may be looking at making a little adjustment,” Ward said. “This was a starting point just to get the bill off the ground. I feel confident we're going to be able to get this done.”
The convicted drug dealer would be required to notify police in the jurisdiction where he resides, as convicted sexual predators must. Police would be responsible for alerting neighbors when a convicted drug dealer moves into the area.
A number of other states have created registries or introduced legislation to start databases for drug dealers and other offenders.
California has established a drug dealer database, but it is not accessible to the public. Tennessee created a registry for methamphetamine offenders. Connecticut lawmakers have proposed a bill that would require violent offenders to register with the state.
Andy Hoover, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Harrisburg, said Megan's Law has withstood constitutional challenges.
He called Ward's bill a “continuation of the war on drugs mentality, which has been a failure. It's in the opposite direction of where we're going with drug policy. It's hard to image this bill moving and passing.”
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Motorcyclist killed after striking pole in Penn Township
- Hempfield train crash search called off; no evidence found
- Online donors help Hempfield teen whose wallet was stolen
- Westmoreland used car dealers indicted in fraud
- Numerous Westmoreland communities to observe Memorial Day
- ‘Dope sick’ man in custody in Mt. Pleasant stick-up
- 2 from Westmoreland County charged in child porn investigation
- Arnold man could get resisting arrest charge dismissed
- Travel restrictions to be lifted on Route 30 in Hempfield
- Man killed after car leaves Route 819, veers through East Huntington parking lot
- Westmoreland County Blind Association building brimming with activity