|Local legislators introduce bills to increase penalties, make homes safe|
Del. Charles Poindexter
Monday, January 20, 2014
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
A bill introduced by Del. Charles Poindexter (R-Glade Hill) would increase the minimum penalty for methamphetamine convictions.
HB676 would increase the mandatory minimum sentence for manufacturing, selling or possessing with intent to sell at least 28 grams of meth to 10 years.
The current mandatory minimum sentence is three years for more than 28 grams and five years for 227 grams or more.
"The Virginia Sheriff's Association and Franklin County Sheriff's Office supports this bill," said Capt. Mark Torbert. "As we see a marked increase in methamphetamine use in the county, increasing the mandatory minimum sentence for convictions will be better for the community."
"It's a safer environment for our citizens with meth dealers off the street," he added. "The increased sentence would also be a deterrent to those committing the crime in the first place."
Sheriff's offices also support a bill introduced by state Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Glade Hill) to make homes safer after methamphetamine labs are discovered.
SB31 would require the health department to establish a program to certify that buildings that were previously a methamphetamine lab site are safe for human occupancy.
"Most labs in Franklin County are found inside residences or buildings, like garages or workshops, very close to residences," Torbert said. "The chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine are toxic so it's necessary to ensure the environment is safe for human inhabitants."
"The bill is well written because it specifies that the financial burden for the certification process does not fall back on the locality," Torbert added.
The bill would require the person convicted of the crime to pay the cost of certification. Virginia law already requires those persons convicted to pay for the cost of lab cleanup.
Those costs are high, Torbert said. The cost of cleanup ranges from $1,500 to $2,500 for a small lab. The larger the lab, the higher the cost.
From May to December 2013, Franklin County spent $11,443 in meth lab cleanup, Torbert said.