Human Rights Watch : H.R. 2851 The stop importation and trafficking of synthetic analogues (SITSA) act of 2017

*letter 11/2016

If passed, HR 2851 will broadly expand penalties for drug offenses, concentrate power within the Department of Justice, punish people who lack criminal intent, and overcriminalize certain behavior. The legislation attempts to address the very real problem of synthetic opioid overdoses in the United States, but we believe that its methods are misguided. Instead of punishing people who use drugs and low-level dealers, legislation should focus on expanding treatment opportunities and targeting the international drug trade.

The United States’ opioid epidemic is real, and overdoses are increasing year after year. Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have played a crucial role in this increase. But HR 2851 would do nothing to fix this. This bill would disproportionately incarcerate low-level drug offenders who did not import or package the drugs, and often are unaware of the chemical composition of the drugs. Many more people would be incarcerated for selling drugs to support their own substance use disorder. Harsh penalties do not deter people with substance use disorders from using or buying drugs. People use and buy drugs because they have a chemical dependence… As the Department of Justice itself has repeatedly recognized, longer sentences do not deter drug use or drug crime. Believing that harsh penalties will deter drug use misunderstands addiction. Since the 1980s, we have had tough penalties for heroin use and distribution, yet heroin consumption has actually increased. 

Original Article (Human Rights Watch):
Opposition Letter to H.R. 2851, The Stop Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017
Artwork Fair Use: ECfES




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