HB 178 intends to create a new criminal penalty of heroin induced homicide. Instead of addressing the root causes contributing to significant increases in heroin use and over-dose related deaths, this bill will continue to increase our incarceration rates in Idaho while failing to address substance abuse as the public health priority it should be.
While this bill contains overly broad language and removes the "intent" component necessary to convict someone on a felony murder charge, this bill will do little to address the underlying causes of drug use and the chronic poverty that makes selling drugs an attractive employment option. The ACLU recomends that lawmakers address drug use and possession through a public health and harm reduction approach that reinvests the billions of dollars and human resources currently wasted on drug enforcement, arrests, and incarceration into community-based drug and mental health treatment, job training, education, and community outreach programs.
For more information on "drug dealer liability" or "heroin induced homicide" laws, read the Drug Policy Alliance's factsheet on Drug-Induced Homicide Laws: A Misguided Response to Overdose Deaths.