Legislation to increase charges for drug dealers introduced

Gov. Mike Dunleavy will be putting forth new legislation at the next legislative session.
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 7:51 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced new legislation increasing sentences for convicted drug dealers at a press conference on Monday.

If passed, the legislation would increase the charge for dealers of illicit drugs that directly lead to overdose. The bill is meant to go after fentanyl dealers in Alaska. The efforts include protecting safety, punishing offenders and deterring those who do harm to others.

“We’re not going to rest in our pursuit of justice in protecting every Alaskan,” Dunleavy said. “No matter who they are, who they are, or where they live, and as part of that effort today we are announcing additional measures to address the issue of illicit fentanyl.”

From the years 2020 to 2021, there was a 74% increase in overdose deaths in Alaska.

“Alaska leads the nation in the greatest increase in overdose deaths and that’s something that needs to be addressed,” Attorney General John Skidmore said.

Dunleavy introduced legislation that increases the penalty for convicted dealers when someone dies as a result of taking an illicit drug.

“Currently it’s a manslaughter or class a felony if an individual dies as a result of your dealing in drugs. We’re going to increase this offense to second-degree murder,” said Governor Dunleavy.

The sentence of murder in the second degree is a minimum of 15 years, and the maximum of 99 years in prison. the legislation will also restrict good time or mandatory parole for dealers and focuses on updating statutes of the three classes of vehicular manslaughter.

“These drugs destroy people’s lives, our communities and our culture. Drug dealers are playing Russian roulette with our people,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell said.

Cockrell said that the new legislation will hold the drug dealers accountable, stating that they’re “literally killing our young people.” Dunleavy stated that he and other officials want to make it clear that this will not be impacting those addicted to drugs, it is meant for the dealers. especially due to the amount of drugs seized this year.

“I repeat, 2.45 million doses of illicit fentanyl in an initiative that undoubtedly saved countless lives by getting this poison off the streets,” Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy said that his budget — due no later than Dec. 15 — will address the issue of addiction and how they can help individuals with addiction problems who want to turn their lives around.

“The public can help by submitting tips to your local law enforcement, to the Alaska State Troopers — we have a tip line, an app that Alaska tips that you can submit tips to your law enforcement agencies or to our Alaska State Troopers,” Cockrell said.

Dunleavy emphasized that those who traffic fentanyl will be on notice and face severe consequences.