Criminal Justice Press Release

07.06.17

ACLU of Ohio Condemns Middletown Councilmember’s Remarks on Overdose Victims

Police Car

MIDDLETOWN, OH—In a letter to Middletown Councilman Dan Picard, the ACLU of Ohio condemned his suggestion to not provide emergency medical services to people who overdose in the city. Citing the burden of cost, Picard proposed requiring people who have overdosed complete community service, keeping track of those people, and refusing life-saving service to third-time victims if they did not perform the community service. Picard said, “I want people to be scared of coming to Middletown and overdosing.”

“We understand public officials are frustrated and troubled by the challenges of this opioid epidemic. However it is hard to imagine a more callous response from a public servant than ‘let them die,’” said Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist at the ACLU of Ohio. “Councilman Picard sends an unmistakable message to his constituents, that helping the most vulnerable among us is not a priority,” said Daniels.

In the letter, the ACLU of Ohio praised other initiatives the city of Middletown is taking to tackle the crisis, such as needle exchange, drug drop-off sites, and adoption of the Quick Response Team model.

The ACLU of Ohio outlined additional recommendations in its letter including protecting and expanding Medicaid funding; treating addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue; ensuring residents are informed about how to receive treatment and services; and adopting new methods to treat addiction beyond traditional programs.

“If we are to make any meaningful impact on Ohio’s worsening opioid crisis, we need people at all levels who are willing to think outside the box and provide leadership, especially when times get tough,” added Daniels.

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Read the letter to Councilman Dan Picard.