Enhanced penalties needed in fight against drugs

Splintered homes and burn victims from meth lab explosions; pharmacy patrons terrorized by a robbery; drive-by shootings that shatter the calm of a neighborhood — Hoosiers too often encounter these wrongs due to the scourge that drug dealing and manufacturing perpetrates on our citizens.

Indiana’s prosecutors are looking for a new way to fight back against dealers and help those whose lives methamphetamine abuse is harming.

With the current surge in violent crime associated with drug abuse and dealing, along with the problems associated with meth manufacturing, prosecutors are asking the Indiana legislature to consider two proposals:

A new crime of aggravated drug dealing that will increase penalties for repeat dealers and dealers who sell drugs under heinous circumstances, such as in the presence of children, or in possession of a gun, or resulting in the death of another person.

A new measure that would require the drug pseudoephedrine to be dispensed via prescription, which has the support of many other organizations such as Indiana police chiefs, mayors, community pharmacies, drug enforcement officers and firefighters.

Indiana prosecutors believe that the current drug dealing penalties are too weak. Drug abuse is driving violent crime in Indiana and ruining lives. We need enhanced penalties to fight it.

Unquestionably, our children are the innocent victims in these situations. The Indiana Department of Child Services saw a 26 percent increase in abuse and neglect reports over the past year, many of which are directly related to drug abuse. Also troubling, Indiana leads the nation in pharmacy robberies, which exposes bystanders to unnecessary risks.

We can be proactive with stiffer penalties.

Indiana has another dubious distinction. It is No. 1 in the country for meth labs. The dangers to innocent people exposed to deadly meth-making chemicals cannot be over emphasized. Meth labs are essentially unexploded bombs.

Pseudoephedrine is the one ingredient essential to the meth-making process. Currently, there are hundreds of cold and sinus over-the-counter drugs available to the public, of which pseudoephedrine is just one. Many people believe the drug they purchase contains pseudoephedrine when it does not.

If you are currently buying a cold or sinus drug off the shelf and are not asking the pharmacist for your cold/sinus medicine and showing an ID, the drug does not contain pseudoephedrine. The solution offered by prosecutors would not impact those currently buying products off the shelf.

Indiana prosecutors know that putting a stop to meth-making will not stop meth addictions, but it will put a halt to meth lab explosions and prevent children being exposed to the harmful chemicals that are present.

The ripple effect of violent drug dealing and manufacturing is virtually endless. We are asking the Indiana legislature to give prosecutors the tools to protect Hoosiers from this. If you agree, please ask your legislator to stand with Indiana prosecutors on this important issue.

AmyMarie Travis is Jackson County prosecutor. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com