Heroin bill passes in Senate judiciary committee

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Senate judiciary committee advanced a heroin bill Tuesday that could impose a life sentence to dealers of the deadly drug.

SB 87 gives judges the discretion to put dealers behind bars for life. The measure comes as heroin deaths in East Baton Rouge Parish jumped from five in 2012 to 34 last year.

Many of those victims still had needles in their arms when they died. The coroner said increased access and lower prices have contributed to the deaths.

The bill's author said some people are misinformed.

"I think there are some questions, as far as, does it create a  mandatory minimum, and people who are uninformed on the issue, when they read it, they will see it does not change the law as to the bottom, it changes the law to the top," said state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge. "It would give judges the authority to give sentences up to 99 years, instead of 50."

The committee has sent the measure to the Senate floor, where Claitor said he believes it will pass.

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