Continuation of Failed Drug War Criminal Responses and Absence of Overdose Prevention Centers Run Counter to Hochul’s Commitments to Reducing Overdose Deaths in New York
New York, NY – In response to Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State priorities she announced today, Toni Smith-Thompson, Director of the New York State Office for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement:
“In the midst of our ongoing overdose crisis, we are glad that Governor Hochul is continuing her commitment to make substance use treatment, education and prevention a priority. And we are pleased to see she recognizes the need to keep people out of jails and prisons, as incarceration is a leading risk factor for overdose and other social determinants of health. We also applaud the Governor for making drug checking technology available to service providers, equipping people with more knowledge about what is in their drugs so they can make more informed choices about their consumption.
“Although the Governor claims that her administration is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to reducing overdose deaths through harm reduction, she could be doing more. One notable absence from her plan is the funding and expansion of overdose prevention centers. If she truly took the bold and courageous action she claims to support, she would use her powers to authorize overdose prevention centers and provide funds from the state’s opioid settlement pot to save the lives of thousands of New Yorkers. The two OPCs in New York City have intervened in nearly 700 overdoses in just over one year of operation and, yet, are struggling to stay open without government funding. Instead, the Governor is taking a step backward and pledging support for more of the failed drug war responses that have only made our drug supply more dangerous. New bans and criminal penalties will undermine efforts to keep people out of jails and prisons by undoubtedly resulting in the criminalization of the very people who are in need of support and will do nothing to increase access to life-saving tools and interventions.
“As the only state with two overdose prevention centers, New York can continue to lead and be a model to other states. We look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature to authorize and fund overdose prevention centers and invest in additional public health solutions.”