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LETTERS: GOV. CHRISTIE WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

  Are you the same Governor who stated in the 2012 Images State of the State speech "everyone deserves a second chance, because no life is disposable" - what happened? You vetoed a Bill in October that was intended to save lives by encouraging people to call 911 to seek medical assistance in an overdose situation.  This Bill would have provided limited legal protections for those who call to save a life.  The Bill also passed both houses in early 2012 with significant bipartisan support.  

Now, you have requested that Senator Vitale reintroduce the legislation for consideration.  Sadly, in doing so you completely gutted the original Bill and added in language which is a very limited version of the original legislation.   The new proposed Bill doesn't remove any barriers allowing people to call 911 and will not save any lives. Under the proposed new Bill, calling 911 will still be a crime.  This is not a Bill that I, as a parent who lost my son to an overdose, will be able to support.  Yet again, more delay and more lives being lost! 

 
 
The purpose of the Good Samaritan Bill is to encourage people to seek emergency medical assistance for drug overdoses by providing limited legal protections for those who seek such help. Your new Bill, as proposed, gives no protection and does nothing to encourage a person to call 911 to seek medical assistance.  In fact, under the new Bill a person who calls 911 to seek medical assistance in an overdose situation will receive a summons and have to appear in court to plead their case and meet the many requirements which are outlined in the Bill in order to possibly get their case dismissed.  What message are we sending our young people with this new Bill.  Is it really that important to put someone who has just called to save a life through the judicial process of going to court, paying court costs and meeting all your requirements?  The Bill also lists that the "defendant" must also undergo a professional diagnostic assessment – who is paying for that?? We can't even get our kids into treatment in New Jersey because insurance won't pay for it, so are they going to pay for this assessment or is the State going to pay for it? 


 

Again, the cards are being stacked against the addict setting them up for failure and putting barriers up that will make it impossible for them to obtain a dismissal – once again sending the message NOT to call 911 to save a life, because in the State of New Jersey's eyes – the children struggling with addiction don't deserve a second chance.  So, explain to me Governor Christie who exactly were you referring to when you stated "everyone deserves a second chance, because no life is disposable" - do you want to sit with all the parents in New Jersey who have lost their children to overdoses and tell us face to face who you were referring to?   Tell us why our children's lives weren't worth being saved.  Every person struggling with addiction is someone's child - tell their Mother or Father why you are making it so hard to save their lives.  

I personally have been made aware of 26 overdose deaths since your veto in October, most likely there are more deaths, but these are just the overdoses that I was made aware of via my Face Book page.


Most overdoses occur in the presence of others, fear of arrest and prosecution prevents many people from calling 911. As a result, medical assistance is summoned in only half of all overdose situations. If these barriers were removed, countless lives could be saved. No one should be left alone to die! I won't support any bill that doesn’t protect people and encourage someone to call for emergency help to save a life in an overdose situation.

 

Patty DiRenzo

Blackwood, NJ 

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