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Statements on the General Assembly’s Inaction on Good Samaritan Legislation

Posted: June 26, 2015|Category: The "War on Drugs"

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The R.I. Medical Society, the ACLU of Rhode Island, and Protect Families First issued the following statements today in response to the General Assembly’s failure to pass legislation that would continue to provide Good Samaritan protection to individuals calling 911 in overdose emergencies:

“The R.I. Medical Society is incredibly disappointed that the impasse in the General Assembly that led to their abrupt adjournment last evening has led to a failure to address the state’s number one public health concern. We are hopeful that law enforcement and health officials can find a way to continue the life-saving actions that are available under the Good Samaritan legislation.”-- Steven R. DeToy, Director of Government and Public Affairs, R.I. Medical Society

“We are devastated and disappointed that the General Assembly left such urgent legislation unaddressed before abruptly adjourning. The Good Samaritan law is one of the most critical tools we have to address the growing problem of overdose, and three years of public health work to educate people about the existence of the law and teach them how to use Narcan just vanished overnight. This is a major setback and a major public health crisis. Rhode Island already has the 7th highest overdose death rate in the country, and we can expect to climb on that list without a Good Samaritan law. While the General Assembly seems to think that waiting until January to resolve the issues they neglected this legislative session is no big deal, their failure to pass a Good Samaritan law will cost lives. No one in the House or Senate wanted the bill to die, but politics got in the way of saving lives, and people need to be held responsible for their neglect.” -- Rebecca Nieves McGoldrick, Executive Director, Protect Families First

“In light of the overdose crisis that Rhode Island is facing, we had been encouraged that the General Assembly seemed poised to re-enact and strengthen the Good Samaritan law. The bill that had been passed by the Senate recognized that fundamental public health concerns needed to trump any interest by law enforcement agencies in adding more drug crime conviction notches to their belts. It is thus with deep sadness that we witnessed the demise of the bill and the current law last night. We strongly urge the General Assembly to make passage of a stronger Good Samaritan law its top priority the next time it meets.” -- Steven Brown, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island

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