Why aren't people who overdose arrested?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - An online petition is being circulated on Change.org asking that people who overdose on heroin and are revived by first responders then be criminally charged.

The person who started the petition is focusing on Erie County, Ohio. In the wording of the petition it argues:

"In Erie County, Ohio and much of the state, a heroin addict can overdose and be back at home that same evening with no criminal charges. Why is it that someone in possession of marijuana can get charged, someone drinking and driving can get charged, but a heroin addict can overdose in public etc and not get a single charge?"

After contacting Capt. Guy Turner with the Westlake Police Department the answer is House Bill 110.

Passed in June of 2016, it's also referred to as the "Good Samaritan Law."

In a news release from the Ohio House of Representatives it states, "Language from H.B. 249, ultimately included as an amendment to H.B. 110, provides criminal immunity to a person who seeks medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug overdose.

This immunity protects a person acting in good faith from a minor drug possession offense, which is penalized as a misdemeanor or fifth degree felony.

Granting immunity increases the likelihood that those in the presence of a drug overdose will call for help, thus saving more lives."

The protection, according to Turner, also applies to the person who is OD'ing. The idea is friends and family might be scared to call for help if there's a chance either they, or the person taking the drugs, will be arrested. That type of fear could cause them not to call for help and could lead to more deaths.

Turner said the Good Samaritan Law only allows for two chances, though.

After a person is revived twice by the same department, they can then be arrested on the third call.

There's a large problem with three strikes plan.

"There is no database to track how many times someone ODs, so for example, one might OD in Westlake, again in Linndale, again in Richmond Heights and none one department will know of the others. Not to mention that the two free passes only require the person to obtain a referral for addiction. He doesn't actually have to go to treatment," he said.

The petition has gotten more than 32,000 signature on its way to a goal of 35,000. Once it reaches the goal it will be delivered to the Erie County Commissioner.

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