ACLU asks Ohio city to stop charging overdose survivors


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

An Ohio community is endangering drug addicts by criminally charging people revived by an overdose antidote, which could discourage calls for help, the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday.

The ACLU’s Ohio chapter asked Washington Court House to end the practice, adopted by the city as an effort to fight the addictions epidemic locally.

“Ohio faces a tragic problem in the overdose of heroin and other opioids. But funneling at-risk people into the criminal justice system because they relied upon emergency help during a medical crisis is not the answer,” ACLU legal director Freda Levenson and staff attorney Elizabeth Bonham said in a letter to the city’s law director.

Police in the city of about 14,000 began citing people in February with a misdemeanor charge of inducing panic if responders revive them with naloxone.

At the time, Fayette County had experienced 30 suspected overdoses, including six deaths, in a 10-day period.

The misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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