State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, issued the following statement today following passage of House Bill 3447 in the Illinois House of Representatives; legislation to defelonize possession of hard drugs including heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, morphine, ecstasy, oxycodone, LSD, PCP, and methamphetamine; allowing prior convictions of these offenses to be expunged and reducing the penalty for such offenses moving forward from a felony down to a Class A misdemeanor:
“This bill has many holes and is a tragic mistake that will be exploited by drug dealers and accelerate the proliferation of hard drugs in communities across Illinois at the expense of those recovered from drug addiction. For too long we have over-criminalized those addicted to certain drugs and not recognized the personal vulnerability the addiction creates. It has impacted all of us, including communities of color the legislation is purportedly intended to help. Wiping clean the felony convictions of drug dealers, instead of addressing those addicted, gives those dealers a glide path to stay on the streets and profit by targeting impressionable youth and adult addicts struggling to stay clean. In 2016 my cousin Sarah, a victim who struggled with drug addiction, died from an overdose after being clean for many years. Under the bill passed in the House today, the man who gave those drugs to my cousin can have his record of the sale expunged. The tragedy that my family and others throughout Illinois have suffered in losing a loved one to a drug overdose will be repeated more often as a result of House Bill 3447.”
“We can and should work together to provide pathways of hope and opportunity for recovering addicts so that they can obtain employment and/or pursue their education without being held back by a felony drug conviction for possession in their past. We absolutely need to lift these folks up and help them. However, the legislation approved by the House today gives a free pass to career criminal drug dealers whose only interest is profiting off the misery and addiction of others. As a parent and active member of my community, I fear the devastating consequences that House Bill 3447 will have on our families and the way it will limit prosecutors’ ability to keep drug dealers off our streets.”
House Bill 3447 makes possession of the aforementioned controlled substances a Class A misdemeanor, which includes crimes like petty theft and is punishable by less than one year in jail or up to two years of probation and/or a fine of at least $75.