On December 31, 2015, Matthew Schmidt, Ross County prosecutor, announced a plan for the Overdose Amnesty Program. Last year, Ross County saw a record number of fatal overdoses. This program is believed to aid in reducing these drug overdoses and help prevent death.
In the announcement, Schmidt claimed that the program would grant amnesty for any individual who calls for help when they witness a person, or believe a person is, overdosing. If the person calls for emergency medical help, they may request amnesty on misdemeanor drug charges. This includes:
- Possession of drug abuse instruments
- Permitting drug abuse
- Drug paraphernalia
If an individual is involved in drug trafficking or distributing of any kind, they would not be eligible for the amnesty program. Schmidt, the Ross County Sheriff’s Office, the Chillicothe Police Department, and other county law enforcement agencies developed the Overdose Amnesty Program over the last few months. Schmidt made the following statement:
"Heroin is not worth dying over. Law enforcement officials in this county would rather see addicts get help, than get arrested. We would rather see lives saved, than lives lost. Ross County, like many other counties in Ohio, is faced with epidemic opiate abuse. A tragic result of this epidemic is an alarming increase in drug overdose deaths. Far too often, emergency responders are not alerted to an overdose until it is too late to provide critical treatment."
An individual who witnesses an overdose and calls for help is not required to stay at the scene.
In 2014, Ross County had 28 reported fatal overdoses. As of December 1, 2015, the coroner’s office reported 29 fatal overdoses in the county and there was a possibility of the number reaching 40.
This program could prove to be beneficial and help in the prevention of fatal overdoses. Call Koffel Brininger Nesbitt for more information.