WOODBURY - Acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas is calling on state lawmakers to take up new legislation to crack down on heroin dealers.
Singas told News 12 Long Island that her office has written up five new bills, and she is urging state lawmakers to hold a special session to pass them.
Her proposal would create a so-called "death by dealer" statute that would allow dealers to be charged with felony homicide if a customer died from an overdose. There would also be increased penalties for dealers who sell heroin to children, and dealers would be prevented from getting non-jail sentences that are meant instead for addicts.
GET HELP: Numbers and Links
HEROIN DIARIES: Stories of Addiction, Recovery
READ MORE: Heroin on Long Island
"We need real solutions that evolve along with the trade so we can make sure that hardcore dealers are going to jail where they belong," Singas said.
There have been more than 400 heroin arrests this year in Nassau County. But experts say that because of the way the laws are written, penalties are so lenient that dealers aren't deterred from doing business.
"It's an economic calculation," says Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, of the Family and Children's Association. "How much money can be made in the heroin trade, which is an ungodly amount of money, versus what are the risks of criminal charges? Right now those two things aren't in sync and we need to sync them up in order to stop some folks who are thinking of entering the market."
Kings Park resident Linda Ventura, who lost her son Thomas to heroin, called the proposal a step in the right direction. "I don't want another family to go through what we did," she said. "There's been enough sorrow and hurt, and it's time to change the direction of this."