SANTA ANA, Calif. – A bill introduced by an Orange County senator that would increase the penalty for fentanyl dealers whose customers die failed again Tuesday to receive approval from the Senate Public Safety Committee.
Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, R-Yucapia, was the only of the five committee members to vote for SB 44. The other four members did not vote. The bill needed three votes to pass. Ochoa Bogh joined Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, in introducing the bill.
Following deal to force the Assembly Public Safety to hear fentanyl bills next week, @R_JonesSawyer walks away from me and @lara_korte.— Ashley Zavala (@ZavalaA) April 20, 2023
Just yesterday he was planning on holding the bills and having the special hearing in June. pic.twitter.com/z7EDByGNU8
The committee also rejected Alexandra’s Law on March 28 as well. The bill seeks to seeks to provide fentanyl dealers with a warning that if they get caught dealing again and one of their customers dies they could face an upgrade in punishment from manslaughter to second-degree murder. It has been compared to the so-called Watson Advisement given to drunken drivers.
“I’m stunned,” Umberg said. “It’s very difficult to comprehend the committee’s view on this simple admonishment. We have worked on this measure for the past six months, engaged in hundreds of conversations, and taken numerous rounds of amendments. It’s discouraging that my colleagues don’t see the reality of the epidemic and the benefit of stopping repeat fentanyl dealers.”
The California Public Defenders Association has opposed the bill.
Assembly Public Safety committee faces pressure for blocking fentanyl, rape and other crime bills— Nelahism (@nela_minded) April 21, 2023
Why is Reggie Jones-Sawyer @JonesSawyerAD57 protecting criminals? #DTLA #SouthPark #VermontKnolls #ExpositionPark #VermontSquare #FlorenceFirestone https://t.co/26oszAeMB9
The association wrote that the bill “would be used as a predicate to establish the mental state of malice, required for a murder charge, when the person involved in the drug transaction had no intention of ever killing or injuring the person who knowingly obtained the controlled substance.”
The association said it sympathizes with the bill’s intentions, but allowing prosecutors to upgrade charges to murder for a drug deal overdose would “resurrect the failed public policy of the past and return to mass incarceration as a solution for societal problems. From our experience as public defenders we know that many of those who engage in the illegal drug trade are often low-level users of drugs themselves. To punish them for the unintended consequences of engaging in illegal narcotic sales and for outcomes that they never intended is contrary to sound public policy and humane treatment in our criminal justice system.”
Umberg said, “We can’t wait for another 25,000 Californians to die from this poisoning epidemic. We simply must use every tool to address this crisis — prevention, education, treatment and stopping repeat drug dealers who poison our kids.”
Law enforcement authorities have pointed out that the crisis is fueled by drug traffickers who have untrained people lacing other drugs with fentanyl, leading to overdoses when too much is included. Many victims have thought they were buying another drug, not knowing it was laced with fentanyl and overdosing.
So the logic of the public defenders office is that drug tampering and illegal sales is a societal problem so individuals should not get a warning that if their illegal sale kills their buyer that they could be charged with murder?
Perhaps we have the wrong public defenders on our payroll and the wrong Assemby members give them a call to remind them our young people deserve to live long lives, and those who short circuit lives are not the victims….Fentanyl kills twice (yes two times) as many people as gunshots! ! Yet TV, Print, and Radio media says very little about the fentanyl death rate while there are media personalities, and lobbyists across the country saying the manufacturers of firearms should be held responsible for the deaths resulting from gunshots. Why have deadly drugs become the “we don’t talk about killer” among us ?
Shouldn’t we all be made aware of the drug use death rate? How is it so much news time is spent sharing which celebrity did what rather than exposing the danger that is killing young people experimenting or chasing a need to “fit in”.
Yes we have a host of societal issues – among them the hypocrisy found in many of our laws, and the failure of District Attorneys to prosecute crimes which impact thousands everyday when electeds use their votes for personal gain or financial reward of their campaign contributors.
Unfortunately we are routinely bombarded by messages which erode important value systems. We are constantly told that we need to have the new season’s ”must have” fashion, car, music system, or that we can not be happy if we do not dine at the latest trendy spot or that we will not fit in with peers if we do not attend the game, or concert which significantly exceeds our “disposable cash” reality.
It may take a while to figure it out but “retail therapy” escapism eventually brings bills far greater than we thought were adding up another not-so-happy addiction.
Yes we do need to remember…we really can live a happy life without an amazon/ fedex delivery every week.
Isn’t it time we have a real chat with the members of our family and community about all the positive means we can do to “get a high” and feel better about ourselves.
Let’s focus on discovering simple things that bring joy !!
Here are a few old time suggestions that got lots of generations through truly hard times : a) have block party challenge who can make the most creative or most useful or ugliest thing out of recyclables
b) perhaps help the senior(s) or overwhelmed single-parent on the block with some project they can’t do as easily as they once could / or never have time for ie window washing and garden weeds are among those
c) how about creating a community recipe book ask for the sure-to- please, quick-and-easy or the slow cooker no-fuss options
d) make front door “pretty-uppers”
e) for those with stronger muscles aching for a work out maybe organize an outing to a nature center, zoo, or maybe a museum once a month
f) how about a marathon game day (tables and chairs for monopoly/parcheesi / uno/ jigsaw puzzles/ checkers and jump rope/ bubbles/ hopscotch/hula hoops/ lawn tic-tax-toe/ ring tossing for those with extra energy.
Let’s create strong friendships to get us through rough emotional times and get our highs with the fellowship and giggles rather than feeling bummed because we don’t have the stuff the media tells us we need to “fit in”.