Proposed Ky. legislation targets heroin traffickers
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- People pushing heroin onto the streets of Kentucky could be charged with homicide if a new bill passes in Frankfort.
Kentucky has seen a 650 percent spike in heroin overdose deaths since 2011.
"My grandson was just 30 years old two weeks before he died, and he had been in recovery for 90 days," explained Noel Stegner. "He was clean for another 60 days...he just couldn't get past that day. His brain said, 'I need heroin, and I'm going to get heroin.'"
"Heroin has totally devastated our family," Stegner added.
Stegner's story was the backdrop as Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway unveiled a new plan to address heroin abuse and addiction in our state.
"It increases punishment for traffickers, promotes treatment for addicts and increases public awareness and education," Conway said.
Under the legislation, high-volume heroin traffickers could be charged with homicide and state Medicaid money would be used to open up more treatment options.
"Make no mistake about it: we believe this bill has the potential to save lives in Kentucky," Conway said.
It's a follow-up to Senate Bill 6, that failed in House committee during the last legislative session. Republican Senator Katie Stine and Democratic Representative John Tilley are now working together to pass the bill.
"I think this is a better bill, and it's through the collaboration with folks in the administration and talking with folks who have had to go through the terrible tragedy to become experts on this," Stine said.
People like Noel Stegner, who are still not completely behind the idea.
"Jail is not the answer for an addict," Stegner said. "Someone still fighting -- the worst place for someone addicted to heroin is inside a jail cell. If that's what it will be, then I'm not for it, but as I understand it, they're going for pushers."
Stine and Tilley say the legislation is still being tweaked. Costs are not yet known. Whatever the outcome, Stegner hopes fewer families know his pain.
"Unfortunately, his first accidental overdose was his last," Stegner said.
The Stegners started a non-profit, Northern Kentucky hates Heroin to promote awareness and speak out about the state's addiction to the drug.
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