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AG candidate proposes tougher laws, more treatment to combat heroin

John Cahill is the republican candidate for New York state attorney general.

Attorney General candidate John Cahill is proposing a plan to fight the heroin epidemic that’s ravaging communities across the state.  

Cahill, a Republican, says the five-point plan attacks the problem from a number of angles. It starts with tougher laws that go after the drug traffickers, including tougher sentences and changes in the classification of the drug in penal law.

"When it comes to people selling the drugs, they need to be held accountable. They need to be taken off the streets,” said Cahill. “We need to be able to work our way back to the kingpins in the network, who are really the ones responsible and that’s why I’m imposing strict liabilities on those involved in the sales and distribution give the prosecutors the tools they need to get to the really bad guys.”

Cahill says he would also push for mandated in-patient treatment for heroin addicts and create more beds for them, as well as dealing with the medical profession’s approach to pain management and prescription drug abuse -- which is often a springboard to heroin addiction.  

"We need more treatment, more treatment facilities, more beds. But we also need to restrict the supply. We need to make sure that those are selling and distributing this powerful drug in our communities are held accountable. We can’t separate one from the other. We need to take a holistic approach,” said Cahill.

The numbers of New Yorkers who have died from opioid overdoses, including heroin and prescription drugs, has skyrocketed in recent years. The death rate for opioid overdoses, including heroin and prescription drug abuse has jumped 117 percent from 2004 to 2012.

Cahill faces incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman in the race for attorney general.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.