Donald Payne Jr.

05/25/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/26/2023 04:58

Rep. Payne, Jr. Votes Against Bill that Could Imprison Black Americans for Minor Drug Offenses

Washington, D.C. - Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. voted against the HALT Fentanyl Act today because it could result in hundreds to thousands of Black Americans being arrested and imprisoned for minor drug offenses. The bill, H.R. 467, would expand mandatory minimum sentencing for the manufacture, import or possession of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances with intent to distribute. In addition to the questions of racial profiling in law enforcement for fentanyl possession, the bill would not allow research on the drug to create antidotes and vaccines to protect first responders, medical professionals, and law enforcement officials who come into contact with the drug accidentally.

"Fentanyl is a dangerous and lethal drug that must be eliminated nationwide," said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. "But it must be done in a way that criminalizes the drug without criminalizing the drug user. Current drug laws and enforcement punish Black offenders at much higher rates than white offenders for the same crimes. I am never going to vote for a bill that threatens to put more Black Americans in prison needlessly for crimes that are judged differently for white Americans."