Carter-sponsored bill elevates fentanyl-poisoned dead to crime victims

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) on Monday unveiled legislation that would amend the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to authorize compensation for victims of illicit fentanyl poisoning.

The Recognizing Victims of Illicit Fentanyl Poisoning Act, H.R. 624, which is sponsored by Rep. Carter, also would recognize that those who die from illicit fentanyl poisoning are considered victims of a crime, and would add these individuals to the list of recognized victims in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). 

“Victims of illicit fentanyl poisoning are exactly that — victims. Criminals are disguising this poison as other, less lethal drugs to make a quick buck,” Rep. Carter said on Jan. 31. “It’s time to give surviving families the support they need and fully investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of these horrific crimes.”

The OVC administers the Crime Victims Fund, which oversees programs, services, and grants focused on helping victims in the immediate aftermath of a crime and then continuing support as they rebuild their lives, according to a bill summary from the congressman’s office. 

The OVC’s Crime Victims Fund is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars, as well as from gifts, donations, and bequests by private parties. OVC then channels funding for victim compensation and assistance throughout the United States, raises awareness about victims’ issues, and promotes compliance with victims’ rights laws, according to the office.

Millions of dollars are also invested annually in training, technical assistance, and other capacity-building programs designed to enhance service providers’ ability to support victims of crime in communities across the nation, according to the OVC.

H.R. 624 has been referred to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee for consideration.