The Bill essentially would have provide immunity from prosecution to people who witness a drug overdose and call 911. The intent is to reduce New Jersey overdose deaths by encouraging witnesses to seek help.
Detailed explanationThe bill, Assembly Bill 578, also known as the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act, would provide limited legal protection against drug possession charges for people who witness an overdose and call 911.
It is aimed at reducing drug overdose deaths by reducing the fear of arrest for those might call for assistance.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death, replacing automobile accidents. More than 27,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2007, most of them from prescription opiates, either by themselves or in combination with other drugs, including alcohol.
Many drug overdose deaths occur in the presence of others and take hours to occur, meaning that there is time and opportunity to call for help. But strict enforcement of drug possession laws against would-be Samaritans discourages some from making that call.
Governor, you vetoed this bill stating that you want a more comprehensive approach to drug fatalities. You asked the Legislature to return with a bill that would direct the attorney general to study the issue and report back within 18 months.
How many more lives have to be lost? How many more families have to suffer from the loss of a son, daughter, brother, sister, father, mother? Please take into consideration the families and the lives that can be saved if you would sign this bill into law. Calling 911 to save someone's life should never be a crime. Leaving someone to die for fear of prosecution is an atrocity that the 911 Good Samaritan Act could help alleviate.
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