Vera Institute of Justice on the HALT Act

May 25, 2023
Contact: Michael Czaczkes,, 347-831-0347

Washington, DC – Today, the House passed the HALT All Lethal Trafficking (HALT) of Fentanyl Act, which will trigger new and increased mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl-related substances. Marta Nelson, director of government strategy, Advocacy and Partnerships, at the Vera Institute of Justice, issued the following statement:

“We strongly oppose the HALT Act, which does not provide any real solutions to the current overdose crisis that has taken more than 100,000 lives in the past year alone. Criminalizing fentanyl-related substances will not only contribute to further mass incarceration by relying on the same ineffective mandatory minimum sentencing policies of the past, but it will also increase harm by deterring people in need from seeking help and impeding research into potentially lifesaving treatments. It is time for Congress to take bold action to address the risks that fentanyl and other deadly drugs present to the health and safety of our communities by investing in policies that address the root causes of substance use and work to curb it.

We call on the White House to firmly oppose the HALT Act and for the Senate to vote against it. Instead, Congress and the White House should support solutions-based policies such as the STOP Fentanyl Overdoses Act introduced in the House last week, which provides public health alternatives to criminalization and mandatory minimum sentencing. The bill expands research and tracking of fentanyl and related substances while prioritizing treatment, harm reduction, and other health resources we need to turn the tide on the overdose crisis. Through this type of evidence-driven policymaking, we can balance safety and justice, saving lives and building strong communities rather than relying on unnecessarily harsh sentences.”`


About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit

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