The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 13, 2014

Make penalty a tough one

The Commercial-News

---- — An old nemisis appears to be making a comeback in Illinois, and legislators and law enforcement officials worry that the influx of heroin will leave an even deadlier wake than before.

The situation is bad enough that members of the Illinois House declared a “state of heroin emergency” in Illinois and formed a task force to conduct hearings across the state. The first hearing will be Tuesday in Chicago.

Local police agencies can see the increase in heroin. The Vermilion Metropolitan Enforcement Group, which focuses on battling illegal drugs, reports an increase in the confiscation of heroin in recent months. The narcotic, along with methamphetamine, poses the greatest threat to our communities.

Heroin is a nasty drug of choice. Its users say the euphoria it brings make them want more and more. And that’s what it does, The body becomes accustomed to heroin, so more and more must be used to achieve the same high as before. The craving for the drug can force its users to think of nothing else. An Associated Press story profiles a Chicago man whose habit cost him $100 a day to maintain. Few can support that kind of spending without turning to crime for cash.

The emphasis on eradicating meth has opened the door for heroin to make its comeback. And there are lessons to be learned from the fight against meth that might help limit heroin’s growth.

Lawmakers should consider tougher sentences for those who transport and sell heroin. Really tough. Penalties with no second chances, with no opportunities to plead down to a lesser charge. One conviction, and the guilty person can expect to spend a hefty amount of time in an Illinois prison.

Harsher penalties would make the choice to sell or transport heroin into Illinois clear: If police catch you, expect to spend a long number of years behind bars in our lovely state.