Press Release: FEDERAL JUDGE RULES OVERDOSE PREVENTION CENTERS LAWFUL
Favorable Ruling in U.S. v. Safehouse Clears Legal Block for Addiction Intervention. Law Enforcement Group Endorses Supervised Use.
Wednesday Oct. 2, 2019 — U.S. District Judge Gerald Austin McHugh Jr. ruled that overdose prevention centers (also called safe injection sites) do not violate the Controlled Substances Act provision colloquially known as the “crack house statute.” The statute prohibits knowingly harboring a drug-involved premises, but was not written at a time when the US was considering overdose prevention centers a public health intervention for addiction. The statute has been a significant legal hurdle faced by the numerous US cities attempting to open such facilities. The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), a nonprofit group of police, judges, and other criminal justice professionals who support public health solutions for drug addiction, endorses overdose prevention centers. LEAP signed on to an amicus brief in support of Philadelphia’s Safehouse program earlier this year.
“Judge McHugh set a critical precedent. Overdose prevention centers are a necessary piece of the public health strategy that will pull us out of the overdose crisis,” said police Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of LEAP. “Today may be the beginning of the end of the opioid crisis.”
Overdose prevention centers are medical facilities where people can consume drugs while under the supervision of nurses and other health professionals. Facilities provide sterile equipment, harm reduction education, and dispose of used injection supplies. Trained staff immediately intervene in the event of an overdose and revive victims with naloxone. These programs improve the health for the local drug-using population, increase the likelihood participants will enter treatment, and connect people to housing and other support services. Research shows they save public resources, reduce the spread of diseases, and save lives. There have been no reported overdose fatalities in any of the approximately 100 facilities operating worldwide.
Maj. Franklin penned an op-ed to the Philly Inquirer in August outlining LEAP’s support for overdose prevention centers.
The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) is a nonprofit group of police, judges, prosecutors, and other criminal justice professionals who use their expertise to advance public safety solutions. LEAP’s more than 230 law enforcement representatives from diverse backgrounds speak on behalf of thousands of law enforcement professionals across the U.S.
Just Solutions: The official blog of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, featuring expert law enforcement commentary on the most pressing issues in criminal justice, policing, and drug policy.