NCGA Task Force on Sentencing Reforms for Opioid Drug Convictions

NCGA Task Force on Sentencing Reforms for Opioid Drug Convictions

Rep. Greg Murphy, MD (R-Pitt) chaired this meeting on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.

Katy Schell the Forensic Scientist Manager for the NC State Crime lab presented Opiates and Opioids, Analysis and Prosecution to the committee. She asked the committee to consider the cost of examining the percentage of controlled substances in mixtures. It would require more chemists, retraining of current chemists, and more equipment.

John Keane from the State Bureau of Investigation discussed how the agency focuses on the diversion of fraudulent prescriptions. He added that their focus was on drug traffickers and explained that stopping this was crucial to decreasing overdose deaths. He stated that doctor shopping is where one person is going to multiple doctors in one area to obtain opioids and they are not disclosing to them that they’ve already recieved a prescription. He noted that CSRS has aided in the decrease of doctor shopping across North Carolina. He stated that many of these individuals are now turning to heroin due to the decreased access to opioids.

Leslie Dismukes the Criminal Bureau Chief from the NC Department of Justice provided an overview from State v. McCracken and DEA Lab practices. She encouraged legislators to review the costs of purity analysis for pills because of the increase in the number of these cases. She also noted the importance of differentiating between users and dealers in policy making and provided examples of how to differentiate.

Daniel Landsman, the Director of Federal Legislative Affairs for FAMM, recommended to the Task Force to repeal mandatory minimums due to unintended consequences. He added that the next best option is a broad safety valve that allows the court to depart from mandatory minimums. He also noted that NC should consider retro-activity because it allows the state to immediately correct harmful disparities and free up prison space for higher risk offenders.

Karen Kelly, the Chief Program Officer of TROSA presented background information about TROSA. It is a licensed long term and cost free residential recovery program. Last year, TROSA served over 900 men and women. Approximately 87% of their patient population is uninsured/without Medicaid. According to an RTI International study TROSA saves NC $7.4 million each year by preventing arrests, incarceration, and emergency hospital visits.

The next meeting will be scheduled in December 2018.


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