Should drug dealers be charged with murder? States ponder

Should drug dealers be charged with murder? States ponder
In this Feb. 14, 2019, photo, Dean Palozej poses with a photo of his son, Spencer, in Stafford, Conn. Spencer Palozej died of a fentanyl overdose in last year. His father supports a proposed state law that would create a new murder charge for people who supply drugs that cause fatal overdoses. (AP Photo/Dave Collins)

STAFFORD, Conn. (AP) - The opioid crisis is spurring many states to consider take a tougher stance against drug dealers, including creating laws that treat fatal overdoses as murder, manslaughter or homicide.

Lawmakers in Connecticut, Hawaii, Mississippi and Virginia have proposed bills this year that would allow murder and manslaughter charges against drug dealers when someone dies from an overdose. The Mississippi proposal died in committee, but the others remain pending.

About 20 states now have "drug-induced homicide" laws that carry the same sentences as murder and manslaughter.

But opponents say such laws are not a deterrent and discourage people from calling 911 for help for overdose victims.

Dean Palozej lost his 29-year-old son to a fentanyl overdose in Connecticut last year. He says dealers should be imprisoned for life if their drugs kill people.

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