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Windhorst Files Legislation Aimed at Stopping Criminal Child Fentanyl Exposure

In an effort to reduce incidents of exposure of children to fentanyl, House Republican Leader State Rep. Patrick Windhorst has introduced legislation that takes aim at those who expose children to the deadly substance. HB 4151 would create two new criminal offenses: fentanyl-related child endangerment and aggravated fentanyl-related child endangerment.

“I have been disturbed by multiple reports throughout the state, including two local incidents of children ingesting substances containing fentanyl. It is time to send a strong message that we will not tolerate adults exposing children to this deadly substance,” Windhorst said. “We must hold adults accountable when they act in a reckless manner, endanger our children’s lives, and spread the scourge of this deadly drug in our communities.”

Under Windhorst’s bill, a person commits the offense of fentanyl-related child endangerment when a person knowingly or recklessly endangers the life or health of a child under the age of 18 by exposing or allowing a child to be exposed to or ingest fentanyl. The charge would become aggravated when a child dies, suffers great bodily harm, or becomes disabled or disfigured as a result of the exposure.

“We have to address the fentanyl crisis plaguing our communities, particularly when it impacts our youth. There must be stiff but appropriate penalties for anyone who unlawfully exposes our kids to this deadly substance. Our southern border is wide open, and unfortunately, fentanyl is pouring into our communities,” Windhorst said. “This legislation sends a strong message that we will not tolerate the criminal behavior of anyone who would expose our children to this deadly drug.”

The idea for the legislation was brought to Windhorst by Massac County State’s Attorney Josh Stratemeyer after two incidents in Massac County where young children had ingested fentanyl.  Stratemeyer says the law enforcement community is working overtime to combat the spread of fentanyl and its exposure to our youth.

“The smallest grain of this deadly drug can severely injure and even kill a small child,” Stratemeyer said. “We have sadly seen too many instances of adults overdosing on fentanyl-laced drugs in our communities, and with the spread of the drug has come incidents of young children being exposed. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Rep. Windhorst to introduce legislation that shows we are not only aware of this problem but are willing to charge people with a Class X Felony if their reckless behavior causes a child to be severely harmed or die from fentanyl exposure.  We have to protect our children, and we must punish those that do them harm.”

Fentanyl-related child endangerment is a Class 2 Felony punishable up to 7 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.  Aggravated fentanyl-related child endangerment is a Class X Felony, and a person convicted of that offense would face the possibility of a maximum of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.


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