Legislation Expands Access and Decriminalizes Possession of Syringes and Expands Access to Medication for Opioid Use Disorder in Jails and Prisons
Albany, NY—In response to New York Governor Kathy Hochul today signing bills to expand access and decriminalize possession of syringes (S2523/A868) and expand access to medication for opioid use disorder in jails and prisons (S1795/A533), Melissa Moore, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
“Today is a leap forward for addressing overdose in New York. For decades, Drug Policy Alliance, VOCAL-NY, and our allies have been fighting to remove criminal penalties for syringes and expand safe syringe access as a public health tool. By signing syringe decriminalization into law, Gov. Hochul is correctly prioritizing public health and evidence-based policy over failed draconian drug war logic that has utterly failed to keep New Yorkers safe and has upended countless lives.
Governor Hochul is also charting a new way forward by signing the bill to expand access to medications for opioid use disorder for people in jails and prisons across New York. We believe that incarceration is not the solution to a person’s problematic drug use, and people who are struggling with drug use should receive medical care. Currently, overdose is one of the leading causes of death for people who have recently been released from incarceration — this bill moves to address these rampant preventable overdose deaths. Inducting individuals on an appropriate medication for their use disorder is the right step to decrease the risk of fatal overdose and create the potential for long-term recovery from opioid dependency, regardless of whether they are in the community or incarcerated. This bill provides crucial access that has been callously blocked for incarcerated people for too long.
We applaud Governor Hochul for taking these long-awaited steps to address preventable overdose deaths and look forward to further swift action as New York grapples with record-high overdose death rates. We can and must shift toward solution-oriented and evidence-based policies to save lives now.”