Infant fentanyl overdoses warrant felony charges, says Braun

Republican leader blasts Democrats’ lack of action on effects of fentanyl crisis on children

CENTRALIA…Three infants in the Everett area overdosed on fentanyl over four days this week, including a 13-month-old who died. Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, shared the following reaction to these preventable tragedies.

“It’s completely indefensible when an infant or child gets sick or dies because someone in the household is using deadly drugs such as fentanyl. These children are innocent and whoever’s negligence is exposing them to lethal street drugs needs to be charged with a felony for child endangerment.

“Those who are trapped in addiction need help – addiction itself is not a crime — but their disease does not excuse them for injuries or deaths that occur as a byproduct of their addiction. If being charged with a felony and doing time for exposing minors to fentanyl is what is needed to protect these babies in the future, then we should pass legislation to hold people accountable.

Senator Lynda Wilson fought for a bill last session that would include fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in the statute on endangerment with a controlled substance. It had bipartisan support and passed unanimously in the Senate. The chair of the House’s Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee wouldn’t even grant it a hearing, despite repeated calls to do so. He claimed that not one of the 58 Democrats in the House would vote for it. In contrast, the chair allowed bills to move forward that would release sex offenders from community supervision, would reduce sentences for murderers who are serving life without parole, and would reduce sentencing enhancements for violent offenders, firearms offenses, and gang members.

“It’s decisions like that which make people question the ability of Democrats to lead on public safety issues. When they spend a lot of time and energy reducing sentencing for violent criminals and won’t even consider the rights of children who need protection from the people in their lives who are using deadly illegal drugs, they deserve to be called out. I sincerely hope House Democrats take notice of these latest infant overdoses.”