Millie’s Law: Cenla mom gets law passed to strengthen penalties for heroin, fentanyl
Lilly Harvey lost her daughter, Millie, to a drug overdose in Alexandria in 2017
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - A tragedy in Feb. 2017 in Alexandria City Park is now a story of triumph for a Jonesville mother.
“I knew I had to do something about it,” said Lilly Harvey, just steps away from the spot where her daughter, Millie, 28, passed away.
Millie overdosed in the park on a lethal combination of heroin and fentanyl. In 2018, her dealer received 20 years in prison when he pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, distribution of CDS II/Fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute CDS I/heroin and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. At his sentencing, Harvey forgave him and made it her mission to make something good out of the bad.
“I knew that I had to do something to stiffen the penalties,” said Harvey.
Harvey, who was once an addict herself and shares stories of her recovery, started vigils and walks for other families experiencing similar tragedies. That led to a non-profit called ‘Millie Mattered Overdose & Addiction Advocacy.’ In the spot where she lost Millie, a bench was placed in her memory. But, Harvey wanted to do more, and many families kept asking her how she got justice.
“I told them, I don’t know,” she said. “It had to be the good Lord. I know I didn’t chase it.”
Harvey thought the penalties should be stronger when heroin and fentanyl were involved. So, she called her state senator, Glen Womack.
“She comes in and tells me the story, and I see the passion that she has,” Sen. Womack (R-District 32) told us. “Really the importance of it. It really kind of opens my mind that we have got a problem.”
Together they drafted Senate Bill (SB) 315 and dubbed it “Millie’s Law.”
“He listened as I spoke for hundreds, I’m not talking about a few, hundreds of other parents who wanted something in the law that would do something to stop this fentanyl poisoning that’s going on in our children and in our community,” said Harvey of her first meeting with Womack.
In April, they presented the bill to the judiciary committee.
“This bill is personal, but I am not here today to represent my daughter, but to represent the thousands of families who seek justice for this,” Harvey told the legislators. “It has got to stop.”
In its final draft, the bill amends the current law. Now, if a person unlawfully distributes heroin or fentanyl, or a mixture containing either, which is the direct cause of serious bodily injury, they face a prison sentence of five to 40 years. At least five of the years of the sentence must be served without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. There could also be a fine of up to $50,000. The offense is also now classified as a crime of violence.
“We have got to increase the penalty,” said Sen. Womack. “We have got to let these people know that you can’t fool with it. It’s going to cost you some time if you do.”
On June 18, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill into law.
“Victory. Finally victory,” said Harvey of finding out the bill was passed. “Finally, somebody heard us. Finally, lawmakers are getting on our side.”
Harvey said the challenge now is getting police departments and district attorney’s offices educated on the new law. And, she’s not done yet. Harvey said she has her sights set on more legislation to fight the drug epidemic. It’s just another goal to let the world know that Millie’s life mattered.
“If she would know today what the name means, she’s very humble, she’d say I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it,” said Harvey. “I can just hear her.”
Harvey and Sen. Womack will travel to Baton Rouge in two weeks for a ceremonial signing of the bill into law.
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