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District Attorney Boudin joins law enforcement leaders nationwide to urge supreme court not to criminalize lifesaving overdose prevention sites

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Rachel Marshall / 415-416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org

Director of Communications / Policy Advisor / Assistant District Attorney

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announces that he is one of 80 current and former elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders and former Department of Justice officials who filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Safehouse, supporting efforts to open the nation’s first overdose prevention site. These facilities are proven harm reduction tools that save lives and help alleviate the adverse impact of substance use disorder and the ongoing overdose epidemic that is devastating many communities across the country. The amicus brief was filed by criminal justice leaders from around the nation, and underscored the dire need to move these strategies forward at a time when over 70,000 people died from drug-related overdoses in 2019 – and those numbers have only worsened over the course of the ongoing pandemic. In San Francisco, overdose rates have dramatically increased since 2019; in 2020, more than 700 people died of overdoses.

“Every person lost to a drug overdose is of course a tragedy—it is also tragic that so many of these deaths can be prevented by the creation of safe consumption sites,” said District Attorney Boudin, who was one of 80 signatories to the brief.  “Our city and country have been devastated by the skyrocketing deaths from drug overdoses.  People in safe consumption sites simply do not die of overdoses. We hope that the Court’s ruling paves the way for saving lives.”

Safe consumption sites—also called “overdose prevention sites” or “safe injection” sites—provide a location to use drugs under the supervision of people trained to immediately reverse overdoses. They also serve as harm reduction outreach centers where people can receive medical care, access social services and explore treatment. Although none exist in the United States, the brief notes that more than 110 overdose prevention sites exist in at least 11 other countries, and none have ever reported a fatal overdose inside their facilities. Multiple cities in the United States are seeking to open overdose prevention sites and Rhode Island recently became the first state to authorize an overdose prevention pilot program.

Signatories to the brief have seen the overdose epidemic take hold in their communities and understand the urgent need to address this crisis as the public health issue that it is: “As law enforcement and criminal justice leaders, amici’s objective is to maintain public safety; saving lives and promoting health is as central to that mission as preventing and prosecuting crime.”

“Now more than ever we need every tool at our disposal to stem the rising tide of fatal overdoses that has surged in the wake of the isolation, reduced access to treatment and trauma associated with COVID-19,” said Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution, the organization that coordinated the brief. “Overdose prevention sites are a proven harm reduction strategy that saves lives – and we must prioritize the sanctity of life after a year and a half of unimaginable loss in our communities. It is long past time to end our nation’s war on drugs and treat individuals who use substances with the dignity they deserve by offering them assistance, when needed, rather than a jail cell.”

The brief’s signatories emphasize that not only are overdose prevention sites effective at saving lives but they also serve an important role in building community trust in law enforcement and the criminal legal system. As the brief states, “There is an urgent need to fortify trust in the justice system. Failing to address the loss of life resulting from drug overdoses—and criminalizing a community-based public health organization working to save lives—will further erode trust. If there were ever a time to demonstrate that the justice system values the dignity of human life, that time is now.”

Amici are represented by a team of attorneys at Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, including Daniel Segal and Matthew A. Hamermesh.

Read the brief and see a complete list of amici here.



Rachel Marshall, (415) 416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org

Director of Communications / Policy Advisor / Assistant District Attorney    




三藩市 今天,三藩市地檢官博徹思宣布,他是 80名現任和前任民選檢察官與執法領導者及前司法部官員之一,在美國最高法院為《美國訴安全注射中心案》(United States v. Safehouse) 提交非當事人書狀,以支持開設全國第一間預防用藥過量中心。這些場所已被證明是減少危害的措施,可以挽救生命和幫助減緩藥物使用疾患和濫藥持續趨勢,其不利影響正在毀滅全國許多社區。由全國各地刑法領袖提交的非當事人書狀,強調2019年有逾70,000人用藥過量致死,因而迫切需要推進減害策略 — 在疫情持續期間死亡人數愈加惡化。在三藩市,自2019年起用藥過量率急劇上升;2020 年有逾700人死於用藥過量。

「每個因吸毒過量死亡的人就是一場悲劇 — 同樣可悲的,是設立安全使用中心能夠防止這麼多人死亡。」這書狀的80聯署人之一,地檢官博徹思說:「我們國家和城市因吸毒過量致死人數激增而遭受重創。 人們在安全使用中心不會死於用藥過量,我們希望法院的裁決能為挽救生命鋪路。」

安全使用中心 — 亦稱為「預防用藥過量中心」或「安全注射中心」– 提供使用藥物場所和受訓監督人員,以立即逆轉用藥過量。它們亦作為減害外展中心,人們可以接受醫療護理、獲取社會服務和認識戒毒方法。儘管美國未有開設,但書狀指出在其他11個國家已有超過110間預防用藥過量中心,均不曾接過報告在場所內發生致命的用藥過量事故。美國多個城市現正尋求開設預防用藥過量中心,羅德島最近成為第一個授權預防用藥過量試點計劃的州分。


「相比以往,我們更需要盡用現有資源來歇止因為居家社交隔離、減少獲得治療和與疫情創傷後遺而激增的致命用藥過量。」協調書狀的組織 Fair and Just Prosecution 行政總監 Miriam Krinsky 說:「預防用藥過量中心是一種證實的減害策略以挽救生命 — 在我們社區承受一年半難以想像的損失後,我們必須優先珍惜寶貴生命。結束本國的反毒戰爭遙遙無期,我們應該有尊嚴地對待使用藥物的人,在他/她們有需要時提供援助,而非關押牢房。」

書狀的聯署人強調,預防用藥過量中心不僅有效挽救生命,還可發揮重要作用以建立社區對執法和刑法體糸的信任。正如書狀所言:「現時有迫切需要對司法體系加強信任。未能解決因為用藥過量造成的生命損失 — 及刑事化一間專致挽救生命的社區為本公共健康組織 — 將進一步削弱信任。如果時間可以證明司法體系重視人命的尊嚴,那就是現在。」

非當事人書狀由 Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller 的律師團隊代理,包括 Daniel Segal 和 Matthew A. Hamermesh。