A southwest Missouri lawyer calls the heroin problem in his region unimaginable. During Monday’s interim state Senate committee hearing about gun violence, Craig Heidemann of Springfield, says with drugs come guns.
“You can buy heroin for cheaper than a six pack of beer,” says Heidemann. “It’s devastating our community.”
Last month, the Springfield area had about 40 reported overdoses and four suspected fentanyl related deaths in one week.
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley wants the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate Springfield’s recent string of drug overdoses. In a press release, Hawley is calling on the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy to designate the region as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area that could include additional federal funding and focus on the area’s drug problems.
The state Supreme Court is limiting Missouri judges on the use of cash bail for a defendant’s release from jail before trial. The changes will only allow judges to charge bail fees to help ensure the safety or the defendant’s appearance in court.
Heidemann says assuming all drug offenses are non-violent and to let the criminals go with bonding conditions should require further study.
“To put somebody with that kind of problem back out on the street without treatment, it just means that they are going to potentially continue to do what they need to do in order to feed a habit that has an addictive factor that I can’t even begin to understand or articulate,” says Heidemann.
He questions how many chances people should be given if they can’t follow bail conditions.
“I think you give them a chance,” Heidemann says. “There’s lots of good excuses – I’ve heard them all. Some of them are very legitimate. I’m not saying you can take all of the discretion away from the judges, but it’s kind of like fool me once – shame on you. Fool me twice – shame on me.”
The Senate committee is charged with making recommendations for the 2020 legislative session beginning in January.
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