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Heroin Battle Calls for Tougher Penalties

Updated: Tuesday, December 3 2013, 11:11 AM EST
ERLANGER, Ky. (Deb Dixon) -- Heroin overdose deaths have increased 200 percent in Kentucky in the last two years  according to a State Senator from Boone County. 

John Schickel believes he knows why. The Senator from Kentucky says its time to send a message, that if you sell heroin in Kentucky, you better bring your toothbrush, because youre going to prison for a long time.
 
Schickel says a couple of years ago lawmakers reduced the penalty for trafficking in heroin to save money. It is now one to five years in prison, with about 20 percent of a sentence being served.

Schickel is introducing a bill that would increase the  penalty to five to ten years in prison.
 
Boone County Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith says as a mother of three children it scares her to death. 

Most of the people, the hardcore addicts who are dying, are kids you would never imagine using heroin.
 
Kids such as  Casey Wethington. He died of a heroin overdose at 23.  His mother fought for Caseys Law that lets loved ones pursue court ordered treatment for addicts. 

Charlotte Wethington is a recovery advocate at the Grateful Life Residential Treatment Center.  Charlotte says incarceration doesnt work for heroin addicts. Prison becomes a revolving door for them.  But she does support the tougher penalties for heroin traffickers profiting from addiction. 

She calls them, "murderers.
 
Schickel knows the bill will be a tough sell in Frankfort because it costs the state more to keep criminals longer. 

But Schickel says, To those who say Kentucky cant afford this, I say, Kentucky cant afford not to do this.



Video HERE
Heroin Battle Calls for Tougher Penalties


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