Fentanyl dealers facing harsher punishments with Dalton’s Law
Dalton's Law says fentanyl dealers will have to serve 85% of their sentence, up from the previous 50%
RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – The punishment for dealing fentanyl is getting harsher Thursday with the start of Dalton’s Law. A full copy of the law can be read HERE. The law will increase the amount of the sentence a drug dealer has to serve from 50% to 85%.
Addiction advocates and families of loved ones lost to fentanyl overdoses say Dalton’s Law won’t stop the surge but is a step in the right direction.
The Richmond Police Department says fentanyl overdoses are on the rise across the commonwealth. The drug being laced into everything from marijuana to heroin. Not to mention, it’s also being used on its own. Richmond police say that could be the reason for the recent uptick in deaths.
“Fentanyl’s being trafficked into the United States in various ways and there’s nothing stopping it currently,” says Richmond Police Chief Rodney Richardson.
Richardson says harsher punishments for drug dealers is the least that can be done for the families who suffer loss.
“If you’re bringing fentanyl into the state of Kentucky and you’re going to kill the people in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we’re going to hold you accountable,” says Richardson.
Laura Helvey lost her son Daniel to a pure fentanyl overdose in 2019. She says her son’s dealer was never caught.
“I used to wear a bracelet that said ‘stop heroin’, but it’s not heroin that’s killing our people. It’s fentanyl,” says Helvey. “A lot of times they don’t even realize there’s fentanyl in what they’re buying.”
Helvey says she won’t let her son’s death be in vain. She talked to Chief Richardson and played a role in overdose deaths being investigated as murders in Richmond. She also created a Madison County branch of the addiction advocacy program SPARK Ministries.
Helvey says she’s glad Kentucky is cracking down on dealers, but would still like to see more done.
“It’s not just trafficking drugs, it’s attempted murder. That is my true belief,” says Helvey. “We shouldn’t be charging people with manslaughter when they die of a fentanyl overdose. You know it can kill them.”
A longer sentence stops the dealer while they’re in jail, but when they get out, some recovery programs say the cycle starts all over.
“A lot of your low-level dealers are also users. So the people we’re protecting on the street are also the people that are selling these on the street,” says Kelly Slone, registered nurse and president of Kingdom Mission Outreach. “Getting them into the system, even getting them into the jail, getting them into recovery, holding them in there so they can have time to truly get clean.”
Slone says fentanyl looks identical to heroin, but is much deadlier.
“That’s a huge crisis that we’re seeing right now. That’s why our overdoses are so much higher now because a lot of these people don’t even know,” says Slone. “Even these low-level dealers, they don’t have a clue how much fentanyl is in there, they can’t tell them, they have no idea.”