Rhode Island’s Attorney General has issued guidance for law enforcement after the expiration of the Good Samaritan law. The law was created to protect people from drug charges if they call 911 about a drug overdose; it expired July 1st after lawmakers took no action to extend it before adjourning for the summer.
In a letter to police chiefs, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin writes that he can’t dictate how officers should respond at the scene of an overdose. But he suggests that minor drug offenders should be referred for substance abuse treatment or to drug court for alternative sentencing.
Read the full text of the AG's letter to law enforcement, obtained by Rhode Island Public Radio.
Kilmartin expresses concern about overdose deaths and says he hopes that people will call 911 for help no matter the consequences. He adds that a brush with law enforcement is the only way some addicts connect with treatment.
Many public health and addiction professionals say fear of arrest is a primary barrier to calling 911.
Addiction professionals have also drawn attention to the availability of treatment options throughout Rhode Island.