KINGS PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Fatal drug overdoses have surged during the pandemic, up 34% in Nassau County. Pushers and suppliers currently charged only with criminal sale of a controlled substance may soon face tougher penalties.
CBS2's Jennifer McLogan has more on the "Death by Dealer" bill.
Linda Ventura lost her Kings Park lacrosse star son, Thomas, to a fatal drug overdose.
"When everyone was packing their child up to go to college, I packed him up to go to his first rehab," Ventura said.
Thomas' drug pushers and suppliers were never punished.
"That's not something I carry forward in my life because it would eat me inside. You just have to let that go," Ventura said.
But she wont let go of future justice for other parents whose children are suffering mental health and substance disorder conditions, and are preyed on by dealers.
"They don't use for the fun of it. They use it not to feel," Ventura said.
The bill has bipartisan support. Drug dealers could be charged with felony homicide if the drugs they sell cause people to die, especially when laced with fentanyl.
Such was the case over the summer when six young people died in a week on the East End. So far, two who were arrested have maintained their innocence.
"Getting drug dealers off the streets who are killing our neighbors, and that is what this 'Death by Dealer' bill is about and we must push Albany to get it done," state Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.
Twenty states have passed drug-induced homicide laws. The nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance claims the legislation does not deter drug use or sales.
"Further criminalization just pushes people even more into the shadows," the nonprofit's Melissa Moore said.
"I would dare anyone who opposes this law to look into the eyes of a parent who has lost a child and say it's not a good idea, and that that dealer shouldn't be held accountable for that kid's death," added Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family and Children's Association.
"Anyone that knowingly, purposely deals drugs that could cause death should absolutely spend the rest of their life in jail," Ventura said.
Albany lawmakers pledge to debate the bill during the next session.
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