Published on: Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The United States is experiencing an unprecedented increase in the rate of drug-overdose deaths, especially opioid related deaths.  The Drug Policy Alliance released a new report titled An Overdose Death Is Not Murder: Why Drug-Induced Homicide Laws Are Counterproductive and Inhumane.  Drug-induced homicide refers to the crime and/or sentence enhancement of selling or sharing drugs that result in a death, such as 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)-(C), which provides a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence for distribution of a controlled substance if death or serious bodily injury results from the use of the controlled substance.  The new DPA publication provides an overview of drug-induced homicide laws at the federal and state level, how they are being administered, and who is most affected.  The report concludes that increasing prosecutions of drug-induced homicides will not curb overdose death rates, will undermine 911 good Samaritan laws, and has the potential to exacerbate racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

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