What’s more important? Arresting, or saving lives?

Lawmakers ponder immunity in overdose cases

Springfield (AP) – Kathie Kane-Willis faced a life-and-death dilemma: Her boyfriend’s lips were blue. He was going into cardiac arrest from a drug overdose. Would she be arrested if she called the authorities for help?

If a law had been in place offering legal immunity to drug users who overdose and the person who calls for medical assistance to save them, Kane-Willis would have had an easier decision.

Along with the parents of overdose victims, she now is one of the principal advocates of a bill moving through the Illinois General Assembly that would offer that immunity

This should not even be a minor controversy. It should be approached as an unfortunate error in the crafting of existing laws, that left in place the fear of being prosecuted for doing the right thing and helping save someone’s life.

After all, what’s the worst that happens by allowing this bill to pass? Some people who were involved in a drug transaction in some way will avoid arrest at the time they are helping save someone’s life. Is that such a loss to society?

Who could oppose such a thing?

Originally, the bill had no limits for the amount of drugs emergency callers could possess and still earn immunity. But the bill was changed in the Senate to limit the amounts of possession — for example, to less than three grams of a substance containing heroin. [...]

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police prefers offering legal immunity solely to the person who overdoses. Instead of immunity for callers, they suggest the matter be left to the discretion of judges, who could take the caller’s actions into account when sentencing for drug

“By doing the right thing, you’re going to be rewarded with the fact that you did the right thing,” said Laimutis Nargelenas, a lobbyist for the chiefs organization. “So it’s a personal issue. And the prosecutor and the judge can take that into consideration.”

Ah, yes. Whenever something comes up in Illinois that could involve saving some lives but might cut into the profits or easy arrests for the police, you can always count on Limey Nargelenas lobbying for the police chiefs against saving lives.

Talk about easy arrests – distraught people at the emergency room.

I’m sure the police chief lobbying fund doesn’t care if some more druggies die. Particularly not when it means they can pad their arrest records and get more funding.

VANCOUVER — A batch of extra-strength heroin is on a deadly rampage in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, the B.C. Coroners Service warned Thursday.

“Heroin being dealt to users in some areas is at least twice as potent as usual,” the coroners service advised, citing 20 heroin overdose deaths so far in 2011, double the number of deaths last year.

Drug users should “never be alone when ingesting drugs, and where possible (should) use available community services such as INSITE or needle exchanges,” the coroners service warned.

Those 20 overdose deaths are directly attributable to prohibition; they would not have happened in a legalized and regulated system.

But at least in Vancouver, they seem to understand that harm reduction is better than the “arrest at all costs” mentality in Illinois.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *