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Drug Offenders Could Get a Decade of Extended Supervision Under Proposed Law

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Monday, March 7, 2022   

People convicted of a second offense for selling or transporting fentanyl into the Mountain State could get up to a decade of extended supervision after serving their time, under proposed legislation being considered by Senate lawmakers.

Many of the state's recovery organizations oppose the bill, arguing it does nothing to address substance-use disorders or the overdose crisis.

Greg Whittington, director of criminal justice reform for the ACLU of West Virginia, believes the bill is not necessary.

"Put 10-year supervision on people that have been convicted of drug trafficking, and often low-level drug trafficking?" Whittington remarked. "And we already have federal legislation, the federal government picks up most of the drug crimes in the state."

Under the bill, people on probation could be required to pay up to $50 a month for the duration of their extended supervision. Supporters say it is needed to keep fentanyl off the streets. According to the American Medical Association, illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogues continue to drive the nation's overdose and death epidemic.

Whittington believes the state should be funneling more resources toward expanding opportunities for justice-impacted people.

"This law is probably going to be one of the most damaging that I have seen in quite a few years," Whittington asserted. "It's a huge step back from what we did."

He added extended supervision also can have negative effects on communities' relationship with law enforcement.

"Take the stigma of police and authority away by having them involved in our lives, not controlling our lives," Whittington urged.

In 2019, one in 73 U.S. adults in the nation was on probation, more than 55 % of people under any form of correctional control. Nationwide, almost 1.5 million more people are on probation than in jails or prisons combined, according to a report by the Vera Institute of Justice.


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