Published November, 2017
An Overdose Death Is Not Murder: Why Drug-Induced Homicide Laws Are Counterproductive and Inhumane, Drug Policy Alliance (2017)
This report from the Drug Policy Alliance offers a snapshot of drug-induced homicide laws and prosecutions in 2017. These are laws that punish people who sold or shared drugs that resulted in a fatal overdose with penalties equal to those for murder. The report outlines how these laws fail to promote public health or reduce the use or sale of drugs— instead, drug-induced homicide laws can actually discourage people from seeking life-saving medical assistance.
Most prosecutions do not involve high-level drug sellers. Instead, prosecutors go after the family and friends of overdose victims, along with people who sell small amounts of drugs. While data remain limited, the report also suggests that drug-induced homicide prosecutions are targeting people of color, consistent with how drug war policies have been enforced over past decades. Similar to HIV criminal laws, drug-induced homicide cases do not require that someone intended to do harm and result in severe punishment.
Copyright Information: CHLP encourages the broad use and sharing of resources. Please credit CHLP when using these materials or their content. and do not alter, adapt or present as your work without prior permission from CHLP.
Legal Disclaimer: CHLP makes an effort to ensure legal information is correct and current, but the law is regularly changing, and the accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed. The legal information in a given resource may not be applicable to all situations and is not—and should not be relied upon—as a substitute for legal advice.