After 2nd baby born in Butler County Jail in withdrawal, sheriff says he’ll target dealers

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones and Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., say they will be taking the fight to the drug dealers who sell to pregnant women.

This morning, the second female prisoner this month gave birth to a baby experiencing drug withdrawal symptoms. Jones said the baby is the fifth born in the jail in recent years.

MORE: Second baby born in Butler County Jail this month

“The mothers are addicted to drugs when they come here, the last two. The babies were born alive, we were very fortunate,” Jones said.

“It’s one hell of a way to enter this world.”

Lang said he’s reached out to the Ohio Prosecutor’s Association and will work over the summer break on a bill that would increase the penalties for a drug dealer who knowingly sells illegal narcotics to a pregnant woman.

“Ohio is one of the worst states in this opioid battle, and Butler County is one of the worst counties in Ohio in this battle, and one of the worst culprits is heroin,” Lang said. “For some babies, who has no choice in this process, a drug dealer is interfering with their ability to come into the world with the same rights that is granted to all the rest of us.”

Former Ohio lawmakers Wes Retherford and Margy Conditt introduced a bill in 2014 to increase the penalties, and House Bill 529, which would add the charge of "corrupting another with drug" and increase penalties of drug offenses, was attached to Senate Bill 276. That bill passed as emergency legislation in December 2014, according to the Ohio General Assembly archives.

Jones and Lang said the new legislation would look at increasing penalties on the drug trafficking side of Ohio law.

“I have five pregnant women in today; 80 percent of the women in my jail today are on some type of drug and trying to get off of drugs,” Jones said. “When these women come to jail pregnant, it’s very traumatic.”

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