Erica Harriss


Erica Harriss


Senator Harriss puts victims first in legislative push

Focuses on legislation to combat the fentanyl epidemic, provide justice for victims of crime

Putting victims of crime front and center, Senator Erica Harriss (56th-Glen Carbon) is supporting a package of legislation that takes aim at fentanyl deaths, as well as protecting victims of domestic abuse, driving under the influence, and childcare center threats.

“Access to deadly fentanyl-laced drugs is a statewide crisis, threatening the lives of victims, first responders and anyone else who might come in contact with it,” said Senator Harriss. “Our package takes strong steps that will put victims first and increase penalties on the dealers and manufacturers of this dangerous poison threatening our communities.”

Components of the legislative package aim to increase penalties for selling drugs containing fentanyl and prevent overdose deaths. Senate Bill 73 stipulates that in addition to other penalties in current law, a person unlawfully selling or dispensing any drug that contains a detectable amount of fentanyl is guilty of a Class X felony and faces no less than 9 to 40 years in prison in addition to a fine of up to $250,000.

As deaths due to drugs laced with fentanyl are on the rise, House Bill 3203 expands the availability of test strips capable of detecting even trace amounts of fentanyl that substances may be laced with. The legislation would allow test strips to be sold over the counter and enable county health departments to provide them for free.

Destigmatizing fentanyl deaths is the goal of SB 1086 which would require that in cases where fentanyl either causes or contributes to a death, the coroner or medical examiner will report the death as fentanyl poisoning instead of a fentanyl overdose.

Other measures put emphasis squarely on justice for victims of violent crime. Senate Bill 1974 would enhance the minimum penalty to Aggravated Domestic Battery rather than just Domestic Battery when an act of violence is committed against someone 60 years or older.

A new offense of Domestic Assault would be created by SB 1976, which provides law enforcement with a greater ability to go after domestic offenders who knowingly place any family member of their household in fear they are about to be seriously harmed. It also ensures that defendants released from custody ahead of a trial will be ordered to refrain from contacting their victims or entering their residences for a minimum of 72 hours.

A blended sentencing provision for aggravated driving under the influence where an accident kills one person and inflicts great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to one person or more would be created by SB 1405. This legislation would allow for justice for all victims instead of just the person who was killed.

Finally, SB 1968 would put daycares in line with schools by making it a felony to threaten a childcare institution or daycare center building or threaten violence, death, or bodily harm directed against someone at one of these facilities.

“People with substance abuse problems need professional treatment. I am proud that this legislation can save lives by helping prevent fatal doses of fentanyl from ending up in victims’ hands and will give them the opportunity to get the help they need before it is too late,” concluded Harriss.

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