May 21, 2014 02:00

Penalties will be toughened for heroin dealers in Louisiana, under a bill that has received final legislative passage.

 

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Penalties will be toughened for heroin dealers in Louisiana, under a bill that has received final legislative passage.

The measure by Republican Sen. Dan Claitor, of Baton Rouge, will increase the minimum sentence for distribution of heroin from five years to 10 years. The maximum sentence for a first offense will remain 50 years, but will grow to 99 years for later convictions.

Critics of the bill say those penalties are too harsh and could put a heroin dealer in jail longer than people convicted of killing someone. Supporters say they're trying to curb the rising rate of heroin use in Louisiana.

The Senate voted 27-11 to send the bill to the governor's desk.

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