Today, the City Weekly published an article available at http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-77-17551-protection-for-overdose-reporting.html talking about our 911 Good Samaritan Bill
The following was taken from the article:
Sometimes, doing the right thing can still mean getting locked up—at least in the case of reporting drug overdoses. People who are under the influence of drugs or in the possession of narcotics at the time police respond to a 911 call seeking help for someone overdosing can be charged and possibly prosecuted. Zach Baker, head of Salt Lake Community College’s Students for a Sensible Drug Policy club, says Utah law needs to be changed to protect lives at the point when an overdose means someone’s wrong decision to not report an overdose is at risk of becoming a fatal decision.
“By the time the [overdose] happens, it’s no longer about the circumstances that brought them to this,” Baker says. “This is really just trying to help save some lives.”
Baker’s club rallies students to help fight the “war on drugs,” a disastrous set of drug policies in the country. To that end, he’s enlisted the help of lawmakers to work on a bill for the 2014 session that will allow people to avoid prosecution for minor drug-related crimes that are discovered in the course of them seeking medical assistance. It’s an idea that’s catching on in a number of states across the country and has some initial support from Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo—but it’s also one that won’t please everyone, cautions some in law enforcement, as the family of those who die in overdoses may want to see charges brought against those who passed the pills.
Baker says “Good Samaritan” laws like the one he’s pushing recognizes the simple truth that people make mistakes, and when it comes to medical emergencies that result from drug overdoses, they shouldn’t have any “hesitation” over doing the right thing and calling for help. His chapter is part of the larger, international Students for Sensible Drug Policy organization. According to the SSDP umbrella organization’s database, 21 states have different versions of this law, and 186 schools have similar campus policies. Recently, Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a similar bill into law in that state. He was joined at a press conference for the signing by those who have had family members suffer from drug overdoses, including singer Jon Bon Jovi.
In 2012, Republican Indiana state legislator Jim Merritt passed a bill offering immunity for certain alcohol-related offenses, called the “Indiana Lifeline” bill. For users to receive immunity from prosecution, offenders have to enroll in a mandatory diversion program.
Bramble, who passed Senate Bill 233 in the 2013 session based in part on the Indiana legislation, says he’s been approached by Baker’s group and looks forward to potentially carrying the bill in the Senate, while Rep. Carol Moss, D-Holladay, is expected to introduce the bill in the House.
Bramble says the new bill would present different challenges than the one he passed in 2013, which focused on alcohol, but he sees the principle as the same.
“We’ve had in Utah several instances where a companion or friend has left someone behind that has overdosed because they were concerned about the legal ramifications,” Bramble says. “That’s true whether it’s an alcohol-induced problem or a drug-induced problem.” Bramble’s 2013 bill easily cleared both houses, and he hopes this new bill will also enjoy similar success in the 2014 session. He says it’s a bill that’s easy to support.
“There is not an argument out there that says the rule of law should be upheld even though it costs someone their life,” Bramble says.
Salt Lake City Police Detective Mike Hamideh, who worked the homicide beat for four years investigating intentional and unintentional homicides, says the one killer that seems to keep getting away with it is accidental overdoses, especially the “epidemic” of prescription-drug overdoses. While Hamideh says he can’t speak to the specifics of “Good Samaritan” laws like the one Baker is proposing, he says that police and emergency responders always prioritize the life and safety of those involved in overdoses over anything else.
But Hamideh also acknowledges that police do have to collect facts when investigating overdoses, and that effort may lead to charges filed against those who called for help.
Hamideh didn’t speak against the bill idea but did note there is a balancing act when it comes to overdoses.
While offering immunity to those involved may help more people come forward, Hamideh says the proposed law doesn’t take into consideration the relatives of an overdose victim who may want to press charges against someone for sharing or selling drugs to the victim.
“You have loved ones [who] want to make sure that justice is done,” Hamideh says. “There is due process for their loved ones that has to be considered.”
Still, Hamideh says, even if the law isn’t passed, people need to understand that if they fully cooperate with police, it can only help their chances of avoiding prosecution. Hamideh recalls an investigation where a person had dialed 911 and tried to revive their friend who was experiencing an overdose. Ultimately, the overdose victim died. Hamideh had to refer evidence to prosecutors, but because the person had cooperated with police, the prosecutors dropped the charges.
“In my experience, you don’t go wrong for doing right,” Hamideh says.
For Baker, such a bill would not only save lives but offer a lifeline to help addicts survive an overdose and also get a second chance for recovery, treatment and redemption. “If they don’t get out of this, they won’t recover,” Baker says. “It’s helping people get help.”
Salt Lake City Community College’s Students for a Sensible Drug Policy will be talking about their efforts and hosting a free film screening of The House I Live In, a Sundance 2013 documentary on the war on drugs, at the Salt Lake City Main Library (210 E. 400 South) on Monday, May 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. The screening will include a panel discussion including former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and retired narcotics officer Dave Doddridge.
Many, many special (and not so special) interests have no interest ending the Drug Wars, or in any meaningful reforms of social policies on drugs….. …and sizable to huge stakes in keeping them going.
There’s an old Latin phrase, “Cui bono?” meaning, well, “Who benefits?”. The more recent formulation in popular culture is “Follow the money” – as outlined in this PDF with many of the huge cast of characters…..
Welcome everyone who is visiting after seeing us at Earth Jam.
Here’s some basic info so you can find a little more about our group.
First of all, almost all of our communication is done via Facebook, and here are the two links you should click on to follow what we do:
Our Facebook page with our official info:
SSDP Salt Lake
To join our social group please click on this link and request to join, this is where we all talk about issues going on, post links, and where we have active discussions about the war on drugs
Our facebook group SSDP Salt Lake
Now, if you are interested in attending one of our meetings our next one is this Friday, May 3rd at 7PM. It will be located at Kafeneio Coffee House on 3300 South 258 West right off the freeway on i-15. Our topic for this discussion is “A brief history of drugs” with our very own Maynard Jim Keller.
We host meetings with speakers/topics on the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month at 7PM usually at Kafeneio.
For a bigger version of the flyer for our event in May for the screening of The House I Live In please click here:
We look forward to seeing you at our meetings, please like our page on facebook to be notified about our events or follow this webpage and I’ll do my best to keep it updated.
We meet the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month @ 7 PM at Kafeneio which is 3300 S 258 W.
Our next meeting will be Friday, May 3rd at 7PM
For the latest information please check us out on facebook: SSDP Salt Lake
Next meeting: (Again, check facebook for the most current info, I try to update here as often as I can)
This meeting we’re doing a relaxed thing talking about the history of drugs, and their prohibition, what lead us to here, how it got started, what were key points in our history that led us to the war on drugs starting from way back and working our way up to modern times.
Our very own Maynard James Keller will be speaking.
This will be our first meeting available on audio-only Skype, if you’ve never been to a meeting but have been interested, this would be the best way to participate or if you just can’t make it. This will become a regular thing.
Location: Kafeneio – 3300 S 258 W
Time & Date: Friday, May 3rd 7:00 PM
Flyers generated for The House I Live In Event with guest speaker panel: Rocky Anderson, Dave Doddridge, and Dr. Paul Gahlinger
Our new flyer for The House I Live In + Guest Speaker Panel w/Rocky Anderson, Dr. Paul Gahlinger and Dave Doddridge is generated. We will be printing these and distributing them here soon!
Our link to our flyer: http://www.slssdp.org/THILI3_Full_11x17.pdf
And if you haven’t already RSVP’d to the Facebook event please do so here:
SB233, a 911 Good Samaritan Law for Alcohol, was signed into law by Gov. Herbert last week. In the case of an alcohol-related emergency with a minor, this new provision protects the person who calls 911 from prosecution related to the consumption of alcohol, intoxication, and supplying a minor.
The actual bill reads:
46 (2) Offenses referred to in Subsection (1) are violations of:
47 (a) Section 32B-4-403 regarding the unlawful sale, offer for sale, or furnishing of
48 alcohol to a minor;
49 (b) Subsection 32B-4-409 (1) regarding the unlawful purchase, possession, or
50 consumption of alcohol by a minor; and
51 (c) Subsection 76-9-701 (1) regarding intoxication when the offense involves
52 consumption of alcohol.
The bill almost passed unanimously at 73 yes, and 2 no’s. This is a huge step for Utah and shows there is massive bipartisan support for 911 Good Samaritan Laws. SSDP Salt Lake will be working on getting a similar bill passed for the 2014 session that will include all drugs, and not just alcohol.
The context of the bill is available here: http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillenr/SB0233.htm
Here’s a letter I wrote to Pamela of the Davis School District in regards to a news article about school drug testing - http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865575251/Davis-School-District-to-consider-random-drug-testing.html
The CDC has reported the 11th year of an increase in overdose deaths, seriously something needs to change and Utah is leading the numbers.
Article is at:
SSDP Salt Lake & LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) will be hosting a meeting with LEAP’s James Mooney, and possibly Bret Black.
We will get a chance to hear some of their personal experiences with working law enforcement, and what brought them to LEAP.
Our theme for the evening will be “Know Your Rights”.
Please come prepared with any questions you may have, if you would like a prepared response please send me the questions and I will forward them to our guests.
Location: Salt Lake Roasting Company, upstairs.
Time & Date: Friday, April 5th 7:00 PM
About James Mooney (Undercover Narcotics Detective):
Taken from: http://www.leap.cc/author/
James Mooney spent more than a decade in Utah State law enforcement and the State Department of Corrections, during which he was a zealous enforcer of the drug war. James was told by his supervisor, Hurricane Police Officer Kim Segmiller, that during his time undercover, he took down more people for drug charges than all the other confidential informants in the state of Utah combined. In 1993, he was given the Citizen’s Award of Commendation from the State of Utah, signed by Governor Mike Leavitt.
But his decade of ardent drug law enforcement also gave James the perspective that finally made him see he was not solving any problem. In fact, he was making it worse. “I was going after them with a vengeance,” he says. “One day, I was listening to a couple of confidential informants who were wired inside of a house. They were making a buy. Suddenly, I heard a little boy inside the house cry out for his mother, who along with the father would be put in prison for ten years as a result of what I was doing. It became vividly clear to me that I was not part of the solution to the drug challenge our nation is facing; rather, I was a contributing factor to enhancing the demising effect the war on drugs has on America’s families.”
About Bret Black:
Taken from: http://www.leap.cc/author/
“The more I learned, the more I realized the ‘Drug War’ was the true threat to our society.”
Bret Black graduated in 1992 in the top five of his class from Weber State University Police Academy. He served three years as a reserve officer in South Ogden City, Utah and a year and a half in Davis County as a deputy constable, where he served warrants for Farmington Justice Court, 30% -40% of which were minor drug possession warrants.
Bret says he witnessed a drastic shift in law enforcement, from a community-based policing focus to prioritizing drug interdiction. The cost, to budgets and to society, is immense. Of the multitudes of harms, what stands out most for him are that citizens have lost rights and police have lost the respect that was, before drug prohibition, synonymous with law enforcement. “If we ended the drug war,” he says, “we wouldn’t have a ever-increasing deficit. We wouldn’t be filling the prisons and destroying families