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Adam Burch Act Introduced to Punish Drug Dealers in OregonSalem-News.com Capitol Watch
House Bill 2610 holds dealers criminally liable creating new Class A felonies.
(SALEM) - Beth Jackson of Keizer wants Oregon to take a page out of the federal drug laws handbook and her state legislator is ready to help her.
At Jackson’s request, Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) introduced House Bill 2610, the “Adam Burch Act”, to allow prosecutors to go after drug dealers who cause the death or serious injury of another person.
“The amount of grieving can’t be measured because there are no words to describe the loss we have suffered,” said Jackson.
She had a brother-in-law die from a heroin overdose in 2003.
A year later, she lost another one to heroin.
He was 19-year old Adam Burch of Salem.
In that case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office was able to convict the three people who supplied drugs to Burch.
They’re now serving 10 years in federal prison.
“We need a law in Oregon similar to the one the feds use,” said Thatcher referring to the Len Bias Act adopted by Congress 20 years ago in honor of the Boston Celtics basketball star who died from a cocaine overdose in 1986.
Under that statute, drug dealers are held responsible for causing death or serious injury and face 20-years minimum behind bars.
Thatcher was on the House Judiciary Committee in 2005.
House Bill 2610 is similar in that it holds dealers criminally liable creating new Class A felonies.
“Drug Induced Homicide” carries a 20 year mandatory minimum sentence if someone manufactures or distributes controlled substances to a person who dies as a result.
“Drug Induced Assault” carries a mandatory minimum of 12 years.
Early release is not allowed in either crime.
Jackson has worked with Katie Suver a Marion County Assistant District Attorney and member of the legislative committee for the Oregon District Attorney’s Association.
Suver noted the ODAA, “would support a law to criminalize conduct that results in death, specifically related to drugs. We believe it would have a deterrent effect on individuals who traffic in controlled substances.”
“We want to send a message to those who deal drugs, that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated. This message has to be very clear. If you distribute drugs in our community, you will suffer significant consequences,” explained Jackson. “This is sound public policy that is not being created to strike at heroin addicts, but at the dealers who distribute this poison.”
The federal sanctions have only been applied in two cases in Oregon.
Several other states have adopted their own Len Bias laws. Officials estimate there are nearly 200 drug related deaths in Oregon every year.
House Bill 2610 will get a first reading in the House of Representatives next week.
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