Advocates of a proposed “Good Samaritan law” say people in Maryland are dying of drug overdoses because their friends are sometimes afraid to call 911.
Two different bills on that subject got a hearing in Annapolis on Tuesday. There is some opposition to the legislation. The opposition comes from prosecutors, who testified they don’t mind most of the provisions of a proposed Good Samaritan law. But they think the legislation under consideration limits police investigation a bit too much.
The state of Maryland has an overdose problem, and it’s growing. In the last 12 months, more than 750 people died from heroin (or other drugs) or alcohol poisoning.
The House Judiciary Committee in Annapolis is considering two proposed laws designed to cut down the deaths by encouraging people to call 911 and offering the callers some immunity.
One high school student from Annapolis admitted to reluctance to call from a party where alcohol had sickened a fellow teenager. Dujuan Gay, a student at Annapolis High School, told the legislators: “When we wanted to call for help, another friend of mine said we shouldn’t call for help because … all of us were underage. Regardless whether we were drinking or not, alcohol was there. We would probably end up in jail.”
In that case, the ill student survived.
Christina Chaney was not so lucky. She died of a heroin overdose last year at the age of 23.
“My daughter went to a party where there were more than 40 people there,” Christina’s mother, Laura Chaney, told the panel. “She indulged in drugs (as everyone else did). They left her. My daughter laid there for six and a half hours before someone called 911.”
Parents, the students, and a host of medical practitioners begged the legislators to pass a law that offers limited immunity for those who call 911 at an overdose.
Some prosecutors, however, objected to provisions that limit police from getting IDs at the scene. William Katcef , an Assistant State’s Attorney in Anne Arundel County, testified, “It just seems to me that it’s important that information … as to who they are [be gathered] so they might be able to provide law enforcement with some information with regard, ‘How did this happen?’”
Sponsors of the two Good Samaritan bills said they would work with the prosecutors to reshape the language in the bills in an effort to win support from state’s attorneys.
Members of the Judiciary Committee, through their questioning, seemed sympathetic with the intent of the bills.